Friday, December 18, 2009

What's in the box? pick-up #10

Lots of great conversations today. It's our last pick-up for the season. I'm really happy with what Farmer John gave us this week (see list below). We'll pick up again in the New Year - January 8th.

Thank you CSA'ers for making us a part of your lives these past 10 weeks, for introducing CSA pick-ups into your Friday routine, and for cooking and shopping around them. I love what Kelley does so she doesn't waste a thing. Storage of course has a lot to do with it - and please share your tips - but what Kelley likes to do is keep a reminder on her fridge door of what's in the week's box. When time comes to prepare a meal, the week's bounty has worked its way into her mental recipe book. She dreams up dishes faster. She crosses off veggies from the list as she uses them, so she knows what's left. Saves any of the week's veggies from going unused. Nice tip Kelley!

Thank you Bree and Spencer and John and Molly for volunteering your time to distribute veggies. You guys are fun! Thank you Beat for helping me lug. Thank you Farmer John for making it work. I'll see you CSA'ers on Jan 8th. Patti: good luck with the movie, Rosie: have a great time in Istanbul, Rebecca: have an amazing trip to the Golden Triangle. Sharon: good luck with your classes, Gia (supermom): we loved meeting you and the kids, Meredith: you in for a bi-weekly? And to everyone: you rock.

Here's what Farmer John had for us this week:

adult spinach
young lettuce (mix)
fresh garlic
kabocha / Japanese winter squash
curly kale

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New CSA for Beachwood Canyon

Wow. CSA shareholders John and Tamara have been rallying for more families in their neighborhood in Beachwood Canyon to participate in community supported agriculture next year. The Allen and Pullman families are long-time supporters of the organic movement and local farming. John and Tamara come to Silverlake every week to pick up their veggies.

Thanks to John and Tamara, and local group leaders, we're now introducing a CSA pick-up point in the Beachwood / Belden area of Beachwood Canyon, and reaching out to potential shareholders there.

Heads up Beachwood Canyon! Freshly harvested, locally grown, organic vegetables fresh from the farm are coming your way - walking distance from your kitchen!

Thank you John and Tamara.

If you live in the Beachwood Canyon area and you're interested in signing up, here are the details for our CSA / pick-up there:

It's a 10-week program that connects you with two very local organic* farms: Sweredoski Farms, which is 15 miles away, and Silver Lake Farms.

Every week, CSA members pick up a $20 box of freshly harvested vegetables, delivered straight from the farm to the Beachwood/Belden area pick-up point. Pick-ups start mid-January. Exact day TBD but we think pick-up day will be Tuesdays.

To subscribe to the weekly pick-ups, purchase a share for $200 (10 weeks x $20). A limited number of shares is available. Bi-weekly option is available too for $100. The deadline to join/mail your check is 1/10/10.

Note: Silverlake CSA pick-ups resume for another 10 weeks as of January 8th. Deadline to join Silverlake pick-up is Jan 1.

contact Tara at or call 323-644-3700.

Thank you HHA and BCNA for supporting this local organic food initiative.

* We are not certified organic but that's how we do things.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


James picks up 2 CSA shares.

Bree and Spencer volunteer at the CSA pick-up point in Silver Lake.

The Bounty

CSA shareholders, Ben and Bruce, love fresh garlic.
Some of this week's bounty from Farmer John.

Pick-up #9

It's all about soup this week. Nothing like hearty soup on a rainy day. Thank you Farmer John!(holding crates of butternut squash)

This week we have:
green garlic
dandelion greens
lots of carrots
butternut squash
parsley root (chop up the root for the soup)
bok choi

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Loofah Harvest

Monday, December 7, 2009

Bree comes over and works with me in the rain. We peel all the loofahs harvested yesterday and set them out to wash naturally.

Thank you Bree! You're a super-trouper!

Loofah Dilemma

Sunday, December 6, 2009

CSA'ers and other good friends help me clear rows 1 thru 14, and harvest loofah sponges and cotton before tomorrow's rain, so nothing rots on the vine. Many of the loofahs aren't ready to harvest yet. They're still really green. Do I leave them alone and wait or cut my losses and yank the lot? Temperatures are dropping and the sun isn't strong, and I'm anxious to start planting vegetables everywhere... Cut my losses, right?

Thank you so much to everyone who came! Pics coming... (And not the ones my neighbor took of some of you as you were leaving. Sorry about that! I apologize for my neighbor's rude behavior.)

What's in the box?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Pick-up # 8

We have:

italian dandelion
fresh shallots
lettuce mix
adult spinach (for cooking)
thai basil
japanese cucumbers

Wise words from Bree regarding STORAGE:

Trim up and wash your produce as soon as you get home -- it saves time later and it keeps everything crispy and fresh.

Wash and spin or dry greens in a tea towel, wash and trim up the celery, trim the beet greens from the beets.

I store produce in Gallon sized ZipLock bags that I reuse. I always put a folded up paper towel in with greens to absorb the excess moisture.

CSA-er Rebecca suggested reusable Green Bags Produce Storage Bags - sold at Whole Foods.

Have a great weekend everyone!


What's in the box?

Friday, November 20, 2009

CSA Pick-up #7

We have:

escarole lettuce (you can sautee the meatier leaves as well as use it for fresh salad)
regular basil
beans (late for the season but groovy all the same)
frizee lettuce
dandelion leaves (peeps are loving the recipes so keep 'em coming!)
tiny thyme

Squash recipe

From Heather: thank you Heather!

Squash recipe:

Clean Squash
Cut off stem and bottom nub
In food processor grate as if you would a potato ( skin and all) to make shreds like hash browns

1. You can place on a hot skillet and brown for " hashbrown squash"

2. Add breadcrumbs ( or masa) until squash gets sticky stays in a patty form and bake or brown on both sides (add garlic and onions) and you have instant veggie burgers.

3. Place the grated squash in a dutch oven or slow cooker with veggie broth and other veggies. Cook about 3 hours - use a hand mixer to blend and you have butternut squash soup. Make sure the ratio is more grated squash to less broth. The squash will sweat out some of the moisture.

4. In breads/cookies cut down on the liquid and some of the flour and an extra bit of sugar and substitute the grated squash - it makes everything moist!


What's in the box?

November 13, 2009

Pick-up # 6

This week Farmer John had:

1 bunch of nettles - very good for asthma, respiratory system, arthritis, joint pain, calming effect on mind and body. Contains iron and tons of micro-nutrients. Spencer says: "Soaking nettles in water or cooking will remove the stinging quality from the plant, which allows them to be handled and eaten without incidence of stinging." Thank you Spencer!!! See below for how to prepare nettles.

1 romaine lettuce
1 butternut squash
1 celery
1 bunch of beets (see below for Bree's beet roasting instructions - Thank you Bree!)
1 bunch of fresh green shallots
frizee lettuce
dry garlic

OK. Nettles: sautee with beet greens, dandelion leaves, garlic and fresh green shallots. sprinkle pomegranate seeds just before serving - also roasted almond slivers. Nettles are SO good for you! You could also make a tea with them. Put them in a teapot, add boiling water, steep for a bit and drink it up! Nettles grow wild in my garden. I also feed my plants with nettle tea.

Bree's beets: wash, cut off the tap root, don't worry about peeling them, cut off the greens and keep these for sauteeing (see above) wrap each beet with double layer of tin foil, roast in the oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Pumpkin Pizza Recipe

November 10, 2009

Glad you liked the pizzas! :)

Here is the basic recipe:


Make or pickup a good pizza dough (we used the bagged one at trader joes). Remove the dough from the bag, roll into a ball, and leave out so the yeast in the dough can expand; about an hour. While the dough is rising, we turn our oven up to a high temperature; around 500-600 for an hour before we bake the pizzas, that way the oven is hot when the pizza goes in. If you are using a pizza stone, leave it in while the oven heats up. (We've found we get a better crust this way).

Creating the pizza: spread canned pumpkin puree on the dough (this will act as the sauce). Layer proscuitto on top and drizzle with honey. Bake at 500 degrees for about 3 minutes. Remove pizza and layer mozarella cheese and dandelion greens evenly. Top off with parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes. Bake at 500 degrees for another 5 minutes. Top with basil, crispy proscuitto, and cracked black pepper.

Thanks again!

Jen, Barry, and Ian

PS- we definitely want to be in on the spring CSA! :)

What's in the box? Pizza!

November 6, 2009

Pick-up #5

This week, Farmer John had:

romaine lettuce
red leaf lettuce
baby spinach
thai basil
red onion
dry garlic
japanese cucumbers

Hello CSA-ers!

a HUGE BIG THANK YOU to shareholders Jennifer and Doug, who brought hot homemade pizza to the pick-up today. Delicious! It had pumpkin and dandelion and ... what else was on there Jennifer and Barry?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What's in the box? Quinoa and CSA veggie salad

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pick-up #4

this week we had:

green onions
regular basil
baby spinach
italian parsley
baby bok choi
japanese cucumbers

Hi Tara -

Here's a recipe that was inspired by a spinach and quinoa salad in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. My variation includes varieties of vegetables from the CSA box. This recipe was a good source for finding other ways to eat and incorporate the dandelion greens: the lemon in this recipe helped cut down the bitterness. I don't mind the bitterness of the dandelions but found it a bit overpowering, when I cooked them simply by sauteing the greens w/ a bit of garlic.

2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
cucumbers (from CSA box)
radishes (from CSA box)
spinach (from CSA box)
a couple handfuls of dandelion greens
1 lemon
salt and pepper
about 1/2 cup lemon vinaigrette


1) cook the quinoa: bring water to a boil. add quinoa. cook for about 16-20 minutes. stir occasionally. (notes: be careful
not to overcook and check for done-ness sooner rather than later. overcooking can happen pretty quickly. if it's overcooked
the quinoa gets mushy.)

1a) drain cooked quinoa and rinse with cold water - set aside

2) roughly chop spinach and dandelion greens. wash it well, dry it. combine in a bowl.

3) segment the lemon as you would a grapefruit - it need not be neat, but get as much of the flesh as you can and toss the segments with the spinach and dandelion greens. sprinkle with salt and pepper (notes: I noticed this step helps wilt the greens)

4) dice the cucumbers and radishes

5) toss the drained quinoa with the spinach, dandelion greens, cucumbers, and radishes, then spoon the lemon vinaigrette to taste.

lemon vinaigrette

1/2 cup virgin olive oil
3 T wine vinegar, or more to taste (or lemon juice or a mix of both)
salt and pepper
1 large shallot

1) combine all the ingredients except the shallot in blender and turn the machine on; a creamy emulsion will form within 30 seconds. taste and add more vinegar (or lemon juice) a teaspoon or 2 at a time until the balance tastes right to you

2) add the shallot and turn the machine on and off a few times until the shallot is minced within the dressing. taste, adjust the
seasoning and serve. (this is best made fresh but will keep refrigerated for a few days. bring back to room temperature and whisk briefly before using)



Press Articles

October 29, 2009

Thank you to shareholder Nick for forwarding a couple of articles...

What's in the box? Celery Soup

Pick-up #3

romaine lettuce
red leaf lettuce
thai basil
baby spinach
japanese cucumbers

Celery Soup recipe from Beat (my husband):

1. chop 1 onion
3 cloves garlic

2. saute above for 10 min medium heat, then kill the heat with 2 glasses of white wine

3. add 8 cups of water and bring to a boil

4 while boiling, chop 1 big celery
3 potatoes (dice them)
3 tomatoes, peeled and cut in quarters (drop the tomatoes into boiling water for a matter of seconds before taking them out to make it easier to peel them) you could also add the 3 carrots (sliced) and the broccoli (chopped)

5 add chopped veggies to boiling water, add salt and pepper

6 reduce to a simmer for at least 1.5 to 2 hours, if too thick, add water. if too liquid,. reduce

bon appetit!! and have a wonderful weekend.


Seed Smuggling Activity

October 19, 2009

This from vollie Bree:

Hi Tara!!

I successfully smuggled some seeds back -- Brussel Sprouts from Brussels :) and some sweet peas for your van (so you can quit bawling). I got them through customs, while also transporting Johnny's road-dog cold back to LA.

I heart my CSA-ers...

October 21, 2009

From CSA'er Nick:

P.S. – I went to UC Santa Cruz so I’m very excited to hear about your trip. I still go back a few times a year and love it every time. I’m a city boy, but it’s a great place to relax!!

And CSA'er Rebecca:

Glad to hear you went up to RSC to learn about biodynamics--would be curious to know how you liked it. I went to Waldorf school here in LA and it's very gratifying to see things like biodynamics gaining more of a foothold these days. If you ever get a chance to get to New York you should check out the Pfeiffer Center, an amazing biodynamic garden/learning center:

Thanks again for providing this service--look forward to seeing you on Friday!


Yep! It's Organic!

Friday, October 21, 2009

This message from CSA'er Sarah;

Thanks Tara! Glad you enjoyed UC Santa Cruz. I graduated from there class of '04, I miss it every day....

By the way....our squash blossoms came with a neon green grasshopper that was hibernating inside the flower. Scared the bananas out of me, when I was prepping them in my kitchen, lol!

- Sarah

Biodynamic Compost at Windrose Farm

Monday, October 19, 2009

Grover pours the Valerian mix, while Don and Jessi look on. Afterwards, we harvest carrots. I purchase some seedlings and then I have to leave for L.A. I'm sad to go but I've got lots of work ahead of me. I listen to Muse on the way home and feel strangely elated.

Windrose Farm

Monday, October 19, 2009.

From Santa Cruz, I decide my next stop will be Windrose Farm in Paso Robles. I arrive uninvited and unannounced. Bill Spencer is running the field in his tractor. I think I met him once before at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market. The lovely Corina Weibel had introduced us.

I don't want to disturb Bill so I hang around and take in the scenery. Bill and Barbara live and work in an incredibly beautiful spot. Oak trees everywhere - a great big one still in the field that Bill drives the tractor around, far enough away so as not to disturb feeder roots.

Bill sees me, stops the tractor and invites me in for lunch. I meet farm friends Grover, his wife Mari, Don Smith and Bill and Barbara's intern Jessi. She's from Maine.

One of those interesting coincidences in life: Grover, Don and Jessi are about to add biodynamic preparations to a compost pile. Another visitor shows up unannounced. There's a quality about Windrose Farm that attracts soul-searching types.

Our First CSA Recipe

October 14, 2009

From CSA'er Treven:

Hi Tara,

Here are a couple of recipes. These recipes were created from improvising dishes w/ the goal of using as many of the vegetables as I could from the CSA box. They're informal and hopefully clear enough for people to follow.


for the soup base:

2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced onions
1/4 cup finely diced carrots
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
salt and pepper to taste
1 x 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
4-6 cups of chicken or vegetable broth

vegetable additions - whatever you have on hand (or remove whatever you dislike) but these were mostly from the CSA box week #1:

3-4 celery stalks chopped
2-3 carrots peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic (unpeeled - you can fish them out later)
1-2 cups of broccoli, chopped
2 x 15 oz cans of beans, rinse and drained (kidney, cannelini, black, or mix)
1-2 cups of chopped spinach
1 bunch of chopped purslane


1. heat 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil in a heavy stock pot on medium heat

2. once oil is heated, add minced onions, minced carrots, minced celery, salt and pepper and cook until softened about 5-7 mins

3. add bay leaf and fennel seeds and cook another 1-2 minutes; usually, until fragrant

4. add the canned diced tomatoes and chicken or vegetable broth, bring to a boil

5. add chopped vegetables: onion, celery, carrots, garlic, broccoli,
beans, and if needed, more salt and pepper; bring to boil (if the soup
seems too chunky, you can add more broth or water)

6. once it starts to boil, turn heat to low and let simmer, covered
for 20-30 mins (or until all the vegetables are tender and cooked

7. towards the end, add spinach and purslane, cook for another 5 mins.
again, if needed, add more salt and pepper to taste

When you find the bay leaf, remove and toss it. For the cloves of garlic, if you are a garlic fan, you can squeeze whatever is left of the garlic out of the skin and smear on toast or mix into the soup.

To make this a meal in itself: add 1/2 to 1 cup cooked barley or brown rice to each bowl before serving

other options, if you have it on hand:
* add other types hearty vegetables: corn, potatoes, parsnip, zucchini, or squash in step 5
* in step 7, add 2-3 tablespoons of minced parsley


1 cooked beet
goat cheese to taste
baby spinach
your favorite balsamic vinaigrette (I like Trader Joe's balsamic dressing but you can make your own or use whatever you have)

to boil beets
1. trim leaves of beets, leaving 1 inch attached
2. bring water to boil, salt the water
3. add beet, lower the heat, and simmer for 30-45 minute, until knife tender
4. remove from water, let cool until you can handle it
5. peel beet - should be easy to remove after cooked

prepare salad - in proportions to your liking:
combine a few pieces of chopped beets, handful of spinach, some goat cheese, and a few pieces of walnuts; toss with vinaigrette; and serve.


Future City Gardens

Sunday, October 18 - UCSC

I imagine the gardens where I grow in LA will soon look something like this, just on a smaller scale. You can't see the rows, but they're there. Growing in rows makes the work easier. One of the gardens where I grow in Silver Lake has a formal design. The homeowner put a fountain in the middle of the garden and it looks beautiful. It used to be filled with flowers of course, but I think it will look just as lovely filled with vegetables - and flowers.

All around the field in this picture: perennials, habitats.

I walked the fields at UC Santa Cruz for hours, drinking it all in for inspiration.

My New Love

Sunday, October 18 - Santa Cruz

My new love. "Famosa" Savoy Cabbage. We met at UCSC. Don't tell my husband.

Rudolf Steiner College

October 17, 2009 - I'll try anything! If there's an organic method for increasing yield and growing healthier plants, I'm interested in knowing more about it. I took a class at the Rudolf Steiner College to learn about biodynamic preparations. I'd already experimented with planting flowers according to lunar cycles. If the moon affects tides, it affects soil water too. There's a gravitational pull. In any case, the Stella Natura calendar is a really helpful tool for planning the month's work.

During class, I learned what the perfect cow pat looks like. I filled a cow horn with manure and buried it, stirred a bucket of rainwater for an hour with BD500 in it (a biodynamic preparation), flicked the BD500 solution on bare soil across the Raphael Garden with fellow attendees - mostly Napa Valley wine growers - and wondered who I was, where I was going and whether I'd gone completely off my rocker. I bought some books on biodynamic farming, had weird dreams and left happy the next day for Santa Cruz. On the way, I played The Stranglers music really loud and was struck by the track "Strange Little Girl."

I hadn't planned the next part of this trip at all. I was hoping to meet Woody Tasch (Slow Money) to see what he thought about urban farming as a viable small business option but he's a busy man, so that couldn't happen. I ended up driving to Santa Cruz to visit the 2-acre Alan Chadwick Garden and the 25-acre farm on the UCSC Campus. Harald Hoven, the biodynamics teacher back at the Rudolf Steiner College, had recommended I check it out.

I walked around the Alan Chadwick Garden at UCSC and fell in love with savoy cabbage.

CSA Pick-up #2

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pick-up #2. No more plastic bags! I suggested to Farmer John that instead of sorting all the veggies at the farm into individual crates and bags per shareholder, he could save labor and plastic by filling crates by vegetable type - just like he would for market. We do the sorting at the pick-up point. Shareholders bring two reusable shopping bags and Beat (my husband), Spencer, John and Molly - a new volunteer - load them up. Now I have more room in the van. Hmmm, maybe I can fit a few more shareholders in the next program.

Something different. We had purslane in the box last week, among other greens. This week it's dandelion leaves, celery, lemon basil, red onions, carrots, squash blossoms, parsley, green onions, japanese cucumbers, baby spinach, romaine lettuce and broccoli. Farmer John says dandelion leaves are good for cleaning your blood and lowering blood pressure.

I leave for a road-trip up north for some veggie-growing inspiration.

Good Food on KCRW

On Saturday, October 10 - KCRW broadcasts an interview with Evan Kleiman (she is great!) on her "Good Food" show. Evan asks me about getting busted for selling flowers, how Urban Farming Advocates came about, and why the Food & Flowers Freedom Act, cute as it may sound, is important. And it is. It's so much bigger than me.

CSA Pick-up #1

Bye bye (for now) farmers' markets. Goodbye flowers ('til the law gets changed).

Today is Friday, October 9 and it's CSA pick-up day #1.
45 shareholders.

I pick up the veggies from Farmer John in Echo Park, and drive to the pick-up point in Silver Lake. It's a big day for me today. A turning point. The smell of cilantro and celery fill the van. It used to smell of sweet pea flowers. I remember Holly, at the Echo Park Farmers' Market, liked to stop and inhale the scent of "April in Paris" sweet peas wafting out the window of my van as I pulled into market. Happy flower moment but that's now in the past.

This first CSA pick-up day, I'm excited about meeting shareholders for the first time.

Bree is at the pick-up point to help me unload the van. We line the crates up ready for our first handover and add a loofah sponge to each box. I grew the loofahs but I don't have any vegetables yet for the boxes. All the veggies are Farmer John's.

Since getting shut down in the spring for selling homegrown flowers, I haven't planted a thing. I've been sitting behind the computer reinventing Silver Lake Farms. When I grew flowers, I used to spend all day every day in the garden. Not any more. Not yet, anyway. I'll be out there again soon planting veggies, I know. I just need some inspiration first.

Bree, Spencer and John Allen volunteer their time to help distribute Farmer John's veggies to CSA members every Friday. We've only just met but we have a laugh hanging out next to crates of greens, sharing thoughts and experiences and meeting people who love to cook with fresh local veggies straight from the farm.

Big thank you to shareholders, huge thank you to Farmer John, and you're the best: Spencer, John & Bree!

Hello CSA! Hello vegetables.