Field Notes: Volume 16, Number 22
This Week’s Harvest
Arugula or Mizuna
By Colette Buchholtz
Each week, we seem to hem and haw over what information will get distributed to SHAREholders about the state of the farm, and how best to convey those thoughts and ideas. We don’t have speechwriters, though we did have a blog writer for awhile and were grateful for the assistance. But those posts lacked our voice, and the voice of the farm itself. So here we are, now writing these words ourselves and wondering what in the world to write about (though not from lack of options). We want to share with you the news of the week, the crop report (as Midwest farm radio refers to it), the weather outlook, what’s buzzing about.
To say we enjoyed the sunshine the last couple of weeks would be an understatement. We floated about the farm on a sunshine high, as giddy and enlightened as the migrating monarchs. And things felt quiet and peaceful. The last of the standing water finally dissipated, and we felt firmer ground beneath our feet. We got some weeding done—enough to give the remaining fall crops a fighting chance. We did some organizing and cleaning up. And we got some rest.
And then we blinked, came to, and realized that it’s the middle of October and the garden is in a sad state of affairs. The sunshine wasn’t enough—too little, too late, as they say. Quite honestly, I stopped mentally adding up the rain gauge contents when we topped 20 inches, so I don’t know what the final damage was for what seemed like a long, long spell of rain. We took a hit with Irene, but it was downhill from there. Sure, what can one do about a so-called 500-year rain event? And all the inches that followed?
To answer that today, in the here and now, there is nothing we could have done to change what happened. But if we’re not always looking for better ways, innovative thinking, bright ideas, we wouldn’t be good farmers. And so we don’t just walk away from events like this downtrodden and despairing (though admittedly we are disappointed, because this isn’t just a job). We’re already analyzing, questioning, researching. Because sustainable farming isn’t just about not using chemicals or working with nature, it’s also about moving agriculture forward in a time of great change. It’s about working together to solve the tough issues facing us. It’s about keeping risk low and return high, utilizing every drop of energy we give to its fullest potential. We need everyone at the table when it comes to the future of food. We need you at the table when it comes to the future of food at the Ecosystem Farm.
Please enjoy the remaining few weeks. The box contents are no longer predictable. But maybe you won’t notice that. For some, just opening the box is excitement enough. And that makes us smile. Farming is first about food. But second, it’s about a way of life, about family, about community, about art, about honoring life. Your pick. We’ll supply what food we can, you give it heart. And don’t forget to bring back the box.
Below, photos from this week on the Ecosystem Farm. Click images to enlarge, or view them on Flickr.
This Week’s Recipe: Hot and Sour Cabbage Soup
4 (15-ounce) cans chicken broth
1 pound crumbled ground pork
1 small head green cabbage, cored and shredded
1 1/2 cups fresh bean sprouts
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can whole kernel corn
10 fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/3 cup distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup Szechwan sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pour chicken stock into a large pot. Stir the crumbled ground pork into the stock, and simmer over medium heat until the pork is cooked through and no longer pink, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cabbage, bean sprouts, green onions, corn, mushrooms, ginger, garlic, vinegar, sesame oil, Szechwan sauce, soy sauce, and cayenne pepper, and cook 5 minutes more. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Monthly Foodways: Southern Maryland Stuffed Ham: Saturday, October 15, 2011, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., National Colonial Farm: Join us for a kitchen table conversation as we introduce you to the epicurean delights of colonial Marylanders. Learn how our tastes and the food itself have changed over 300 years as we explore the “receipts” (recipes) and meal preparation for everything from peas and pottage to food traditions for which Maryland is known. This month’s menu will include Maryland stuffed ham – a true Southern Maryland holiday tradition!
Sprouts: Thursday, October 20, 2011, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., Education Center: It’s never too early to get out and garden! Sprouts is a garden-themed educational program geared toward preschoolers. This one-hour, once-a-month program will spotlight fruit, vegetables, and other parts of a backyard garden, and will feature fun activities for parents and children to do together, from singing songs and reading stories to making crafts and playing games. We will spend time outside when weather permits. This month, we will learn about autumn leaves.