Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy Happy New Year - 2012

Thanks for making 2011 The Simple Farm's best!
We look forward to what new growth 2012 has for us and for you!


PS - New baby goats on the way in the beginning of March!

Here's a glimpse of one of the things we do at the farm.






Apple Cider-Glazed Turnips

From Whole Food Market

Apple cider’s sweetness is a perfect foil for turnip’s earthy character. Serve these alongside roasted chicken, pork or lamb.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 pounds turnips, peeled and cut into sticks
2/3 cup apple cider
3 tablespoons brown sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 9-x-13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter, then arrange turnips in dish in a single layer. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons butter, cider, sugar, salt and pepper in a small pot and cook over medium heat until melted and well combined. Pour this mixture evenly over turnips.
Cover dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Stir turnips and continue to bake, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until fork tender and liquid has reduced, 20 to 30 minutes more. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Basil-Lemon Pesto

From William Sonoma

A light and lemony variation on the traditional pesto, this version combines fresh parsley and basil. Toss with your favorite pasta, or spoon over grilled fish or chicken breasts. To toast the pine nuts, place them on a baking sheet and bake in a 350°F oven until golden, 8 to 10 minutes

Ingredients

2 garlic cloves
3 Tbs. toasted pine nuts
1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 to 1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 

Directions

In a food processor, combine the garlic, pine nuts, basil, parsley, cheese, lemon zest and lemon juice. Pulse until ground to a fine paste, about 1 minute. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 cups.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch

Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch


A Delicious Recipe Bon Appetit


Ingredients

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

1 un-peeled large eggplant (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 medium yellow bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch squares

2 cups grape tomatoes

3 large garlic cloves, divided

1/3 cup olive oil

2 cups (firmly packed) fresh basil leaves, divided

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 pound rigatoni

1 pound whole-milk mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes


Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray; add eggplant and peppers. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise; add to sheet. Using garlic press, squeeze 1 garlic clove onto vegetables. Drizzle vegetables with oil; toss. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast vegetables until tender, stirring often, 35 to 45 minutes.


Combine 2/3 cup basil, 1/2 cup Parmesan, pine nuts, and 1 garlic clove in mini processor. Blend until crumbly. Season topping with salt.


Blend tomatoes with juice, cream, 1 1/3 cups basil, and 1 garlic clove in processor until smooth. Season sauce with salt and pepper.


Cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally; drain. Return to pot. Toss with vegetables, sauce, and 1/2 cup Parmesan. 


Transfer to 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with mozzarella and pine nut topping.


Bake pasta until heated through, 25 to 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.


I long for the next seasons eggplant harvest.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas from The Simple Farm


to you. . . 

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!



We are so thankful for everyone of you who have partnered with us to make our 
suburban farming adventure a lot more fun.



Thank you for supporting your local, neighborhood farmers.



. . . . from us (Michael and Lylah) 



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Glorious Turnip



Turnips, which are low calorie and high nutritional value are often over looked at the market.  I can only remember buying turnips once when I made a soup stock. Sad, but true.  It's really only been since I started to grow them, that I began to realize their beauty and deliciousness.

The other week I made turkey soup and decided to roast some carrots and one of the turnips I'd just harvested. That turnip made all the difference in the world in that turkey soup. This week, we had a few vegetables left over from our Thursday French market and so I decided that I'd roast them all and serve them for our evening meal. Simply amazing, nutritious and delicious - especially those roasted turnips.

We've planted and are harvesting two kinds of turnips - the Shogoin and the Purple Globe and both are fabulous. You can eat turnips raw, put them in a salad, roast them as I've done and add them to soups. The turnips greens are just about the best part too. Saute them lightly in olive oil and garlic or add them to soup.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Off To Market We Go

I always look forward to receiving David Lebovitz posts and one of this weeks caught my eye - because it has to do with the French Market.

Visit to a Paris Market (Video).  There are markets EVERYWHERE in Paris. Ahhhh....

Key points that stuck out are:
Outdoor markets take place in various neighborhoods. (love this)
In general, he buys from the same people - because they know him and they know what he likes.
You have to shift your thinking with the seasons. 
Everything actually looks a little 'funky' which is what he likes. (Good food doesn't look perfect)
Outdoor markets aren't just places to buy food; they act as social centers. (awesome)




Paris Market from David Lebovitz on Vimeo.


Click HERE to see just how many outdoor markets there are in Paris. Amazingly wonderful.

So, what would change for you if you had a market right in your neighborhood?

Monday, December 19, 2011

One Way To Reduce Crime

As I read this article to Michael we didn't know whether to shout and scream (from hope/excitement) or cry (because of the beauty of one community and the vision of two women).  I mean seriously how can a title like this:

British town grows all of its own vegetables, 
witnesses improved civic life and reduced crime as a result.

not do something to you?  

All we could think of is that - why not Scottsdale, why not the whole Phoenix valley and why not the city you live in?  If Mary Clear, a grandmother of ten, had vision to change her community by building community through her program called Incredible Edible - then why can't we?

I know that some of this is happening, but we think and so do those we talk with - that it's just not enough to turn things around.

So, what IF there was this uprising (of sorts) of young (and older) people who understood that one of the best ways forward isn't just sustainability on an individual basis, but to go beyond that and begin installing fruit and vegetable gardens EVERYWHERE.  

What IF every police station, fire station, city hall, library and every schools (and we applaud our friends at My Farmyard for their part in school gardens) had raised beds of food (to give away).


The message of IE is to "experiment and take action", to "get involved", and "feel empowered".  They are inspiring people to do more locally (and I know this is happening to a degree), do more learning, more teaching, more asking, more planting, more growing and (I love this one) to more cooking.  


The article here states this: Fresh herbs, succulent greens, and tasty fruits can be found growing near civic buildings, college campuses, supermarket parking lots, and various other places. Small garden plots, raised planting beds, and even small soil strips in these areas can be found brimming with fresh produce, all of which are free to anyone who want it, and at any time.


It is all part of a program called Incredible Edible, which was founded by Mary Clear, a local grandmother of ten, and Pam Warhurst, former owner of a local restaurant in town known as Bear Cafe. The duo had a shared goal of making Todmorden the first town in the UK to become completely self-sufficient in food -- and their endeavors have been successful.



Pretty exciting if you ask us. So, how should we begin? 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Roasted Radishes and Other Fine Roots


It's root vegetable season at The Simple Farm and I until now, I can honestly say that Michael and I didn't know how wonderful and delicious these roots were.

This is tonights dinner: radishes, turnips, potatoes, carrots, peppers & eggplant (ok, they're not roots, but fabulous just the same), garlic cloves and fresh snipped dill -drizzled with olive oil and roasted at 350 degrees for about an hour.

Recently I learned that when you roast radishes they actually mellow out and become a bit sweet.

We've just begun to fill our French market with turnips (Shoigoin and Purple Globe), a gourmet blend of radishes and carrots.  We still have eggplants and peppers and of course a beautiful selection of herbs to choose from.

Stop by this Thursday from 9 - 1 pm for your last minute holiday shopping. We will NOT be open Friday and we WILL be CLOSED the following week for a little time off as we get ready to start our January CSA baskets.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Another Gift Idea From The Farm

Who doesn't like specialty jams and jellies made from a local farm for a holiday gift?  The shelfs in our French Market mercantile have several 'sweet' selections for gift giving.

  


 All our jams and jellies and butters are made with organic fruit.





If you notice on the little chalkboard sign, we also have a new item in our French Market - Aprons!  The cutest French couture aprons. Pictures coming on the next blog post!

Our French Market will be open this week on Thursday from 9 - 1pm and Friday 4 - 6 pm.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gift Idea - Give Caramel Sauce - Made with Sweet Goats Milk

Here's another Holiday Gift Idea - give a sweet jar of gourmet caramel sauce from The Simple Farm.

Our Goat Milk Caramel Sauce (also known as Cajeta) is made in the traditional farm style way with fresh milk from our hand - milked Nubian dairy goats.


Little decadent jars are available at our farm in our French Market or they can be shipped via our online mercantile {here}.



It can't get any better than fresh goats milk, pure cane sugar, pure vanilla or vanilla beans cooked down for hours to come up with this golden brown creamy caramel sauce that can be either eaten from the jar or drizzled on ice cream, brownies or our farm's goat milk fudge.

Top your oatmeal with a spoonful of our caramel sauce or drizzle a bit on your banana crepes or pancakes. And of course our caramel sauce makes great dipping for caramel apples.

Our carjeta is a great gift - it's gluten free and fabulous for those with lactose intolerance.

We use no high fructose corn syrup, additives or preservatives - just pure rich goodness. Because no stabilizers are used in this product, some crystallization or separation may occur.   This will resolve when our sauce is warmed and stirred.

Each jar is 6 oz. of pure delight. We ship only within the United States.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Arcadia Edible Garden Tour - Hurry to Sign Up

December's always an exciting month filled with lots of activities and celebrations. One activity you won't want to miss is the Edible Arcadia Garden Tour. It's become such a popular city activity that the limited number of tickets often sell out quickly.  At last count there were already over 150 tickets sold. 


Here's the scoop!



Arcadia Edible Garden Tour 

Date: Sunday, December 4th, 2011 

Time: 10:00am – 2:00pm

Neighborhood Garden Market & 
Light Refreshments at 
Jill’s Garden: 11:00pm – 2:00pm Tickets: $15.00

Tickets sell very quickly, and 
tickets are limited  so go {HERE} to get yours today!



Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Dance

When our girls grew their baby goats (aka kids) I watched and listened with great anticipation.  The sweetest thing ever was listening to the mamas hum to their babies. . . thus my term - Goat Song.

As each expectant mama would lie down - I'd notice how she'd bend her head, take note of her growing belly and then start this gentle hum. Each mom (doe) would make different tonalities.  Singing - I call it - or Goat Song.

I think this is so - so that each baby (if born within a big herd) would be able to find her mom and know her mom because of her particular sound.

Once again, we're starting that season of breeding all over again and today as I watched Caleb (our herd sire from Crow's Dairy in Buckeye) do his 'thing' I have termed this - Goat Dance.

It's as if he courts her in his dance around her. In my opinion - it's a beautiful thing.  It's a nature thing. It's a God thing.










I - we - the neighbors (I'm sure) only hope she 'took' today because her "heat cry" is incredibly obnoxious. Listen {here} for yourself.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Husband's Fresh Chevre . . .


. . . eat your heart out you raw cheese lovers. . . .

Want goat cheese? We sell Crow's Dairy Fabulous Cheese - Chevre and Feta - 
at our market on Thursday and Friday!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Autumn Harvest Soup


I'm into soups. And, I'm always looking for new, yummy soup (healthy) recipes. So, if you have some, send them my way. Either email me or post them in the comments section.

I just found this one off of Leeks and Bounds Blog. I'll definitely make it.

Autumn Harvest SoupServes 4-6
1-2T olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, smashed or minced
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2-3 carrots, cut into rounds
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeds removed and crushed
1 15oz can kidney beans
1 15oz can pinto beans (or, any combo you like)
1 bunch kale or chard, chopped
Grated
Parmesan cheese, to tasteSalt + Pepper to taste

In a soup pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat; add the onions and garlic and cook until soft and fragrant then . . .
Add chicken/vegetable stock
Add carrots, bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes
Add tomatoes (crush them up with your hands first), beans and chard/kale
Bring to a boil, cover and cook until chard/kale is wilted, about 5 -10 minutes
Ladle into bowls, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle on grated Parmesan

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sweet Potato Casserole - the Best Ever!

Just thinking forward to Thanksgiving and our farm menu. This sweet potato casserole is a MUST at our table and in my humble opinion, I think it should be presented at yours too!  I am going to try it in this traditional way and using one of the Cinderella Pumpkins we have here at the farm.



Ingredients:
5 medium size sweet potatoes. boil and mash - should be around 3 cups. Mix with the mashed sweet potatoes:
2 eggs beaten
1/2 c - 3/4 c sugar
1/2 stick of melted butter
1/2 t. nutmeg and cinnamon
1 c milk (we use whole/organic milk)
mix this together - well.

place in a buttered 9x12 inch pan and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

the topping:
3/4 crushed cornflakes
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c brown sugar and 1/2 stick of melted butter Mix this and spread over the top of the baked casserole. then bake for 8 - 10 minutes

Let me know how you like it!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Thursday Market at Jam in Old Town Scottsdale

Awhile back I (Michael too) and a few others began to be pursued by Shauna.  

Shauna's this beautiful, lively, inspiring young woman with a ton of vision, ideas and creativity - 

along with her sweet southern loveliness and charm one of her recent ideas was 

to invite a selected group of local artisans to partner together for

what is being called: Picket Fences

 a Once A Month on The First Thursday Only 7 pm until 9 pm

kind of French Inspired Market in Old Town Scottsdale 

held at her Jammin home at 6938 E. 1st Street Scottsdale.

Food, crafts, culinary delights, art, and of course, The Simple Farm

and it all begins THIS Thursday, November 3rd.  




Morning Goat Antics at The Farm - Oh to be Queen







Ahnie: Queen in Training






Saturday, October 29, 2011

Farm to Table Fiasco - In Las Vegas - So Sad!

This broils my gizzards. . . I've taken the liberty to copy and paste it from the Farm to Consumer web site. (link here).  They are not only fighting for farmers - but they are fighting for consumers who have the right to choose.  You can find them here at farmtoconsumer.org

Please read this and spread the word about this delicious revolution of a various kind  by forwarding this blog post!

Make sure you view the video on the right side of the website Dinner Videos and especially Farmer Laura Bledsoes' Heart Felt Message.

Also, The Simple Farm carries a producers certificate from the State of Arizona {here}

When an over-zealous regulator shows up at a farm dinner demanding that food be destroyed as hungry guests await, who do you call? Here's Laura's account written as a letter to her guests who had come to Quail Hollow Farm expecting a meal of foods harvested from local small family farms.
This incident shows the value of the 24/7 legal hotline for farmers like Laura who need help...even on a Friday night!  A member benefit like the hotline is available thanks to the financial support of the many FTCLDF members and donors.





Dearest Guests, (You have all become dear to us!)
What an evening we had this last Friday night!  It had all the makings of a really great novel: drama, suspense, anticipation, crisis, heroic efforts, villains and victors, resolution and a happy ending.
The evening was everything I had dreamed and hoped it would be. The weather was perfect, the farm was filled with friends and guests roaming around talking about organic, sustainable farming practices. Our young interns were teaching and sharing their passion for farming and their role in it.  (A high hope for our future!)  The pig didn’t get loose.  
Our guests were excited to spend an evening together. The food was prepared exquisitely.  The long dinner table, under the direction of dear friends, was absolutely stunningly beautiful. The music was superb. The stars were bright and life was really good.  
And then, …
for a few moments, it felt like the rug was pulled out from underneath us and my wonderful world came crashing down.  As guests were mingling, finishing tours of the farm, and while the first course of the meal was being prepared and ready to be sent out, a Southern Nevada Health District employee came for an inspection.
Because this was a gathering of people invited to our farm for dinner, I had no idea that the Health Department would become involved.  I received a phone call from them two days before the event informing me that because this was a “public event” (I would like to know what is the definition of “public” and “private”) we would be required to apply for a “special use permit”. 
If we did not do so immediately, we would be charged a ridiculous fine.
Stunned, we immediately complied.  
We were in the middle of our harvest day for our CSA shares, a very busy time for us, but Monte immediately left to comply with the demand and filled out the required paper work and paid for the fee.  (Did I mention that we live in Overton, nowhere near a Health Department office?)  Paper work now in order, he was informed that we would not actually be given the permit until an inspector came to check it all out.  
She came literally while our guests were arriving! 
In order to overcome any trouble with the Health Department of cooking on the premises, most of the food was prepared in a certified kitchen in Las Vegas; and to further remove any doubt, we rented a certified kitchen trailer to be here on the farm for the preparation of the meals.  The inspector, Mary Oaks, clearly not the one in charge of the inspection as she was constantly on the phone with her superior Susan somebody who was calling all the shots from who knows where. 
Susan deemed our food unfit for consumption and demanded that we call off the event because:  
1. Some of the prepared food packages did not have labels on them.  (The code actually allows for this if it is to be consumed within 72 hours.)  
2.  Some of the meat was not USDA certified.  (Did I mention that this was a farm to fork meal?) 
3.  Some of the food that was prepared in advance was not up to temperature at the time of inspection. (It was being prepared to be brought to proper temperature for serving when the inspection occurred.)
4.  Even the vegetables prepared in advance had to be thrown out because they were cut and were then considered a “bio-hazard”.
5.  We did not have receipts for our food.  (Reminder!  This food came from farms not from the supermarket!  I have talked with several chefs who have said that in all their years cooking they have never been asked for receipts.) 
At this time Monte, trying to reason with Susan to find a possible solution for the problem, suggested turning this event from a “public” event to a “private” event by allowing the guests to become part of our farm club, thus eliminating any jurisdiction or responsibility on their part.  This idea infuriated Susan and threatened that if we did not comply the police would be called and personally escort our guests off the property.  This is not the vision of the evening we had in mind!  So regretfully, again we complied.
The only way to keep our guests on the property was to destroy the food.
I can’t tell you how sick to my stomach I was watching that first dish of Mint Lamb Meatballs hit the bottom of the unsanitized trash can.
Here we were with guests who had paid in advance and had come from long distances away anticipating a wonderful dining experience, waiting for dinner while we were behind the kitchen curtain throwing it away!  I know of the hours and labor that went into the preparation of that food.
We asked the inspector if we could save the food for a private family event that we were having the next day.  (A personal family choice to use our own food.)  We were denied and she was insulted that we would even consider endangering our families health.  I assured her that I had complete faith and trust in Giovanni our chef and the food that was prepared, (obviously, or I wouldn’t be wanting to serve it to our guests).
I then asked if we couldn’t feed the food to our “public guests” or even to our private family, then at least let us feed it to our pigs.  (I think it should be a criminal action to waste any resource of the land. Being dedicated to our organic farm, we are forever looking for good inputs into our compost and soil and good food that can be fed to our animals. The animals and compost pile always get our left over garden surplus and food.  We truly are trying to be as sustainable as possible.)
Again, a call to Susan and another negative response.
Okay, so let me get this right.
So the food that was raised here on our farm and selected and gathered from familiar local sources, cooked and prepared with skill and love was even unfit to feed to my pigs!?!  
Who gave them the right to tell me what I feed my animals? 
Not only were we denied the use of the food for any purpose, to ensure that it truly was unfit for feed of any kind we were again threatened with police action if we did not only throw the food in the trash, but then to add insult to injury, we were ordered to pour bleach on it.   
Now the food is also unfit for compost as I would be negligent to allow any little critters to nibble on it while it was composting and ingest that bleach resulting in a horrible death.  Literally hundreds of pounds of food was good for nothing but adding to our ever increasing land fill!
At some point in all of this turmoil Monte reminded me that I had the emergency phone number for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) on our refrigerator.  I put it there never really believing that I would ever have to use it.   We became members of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund several years ago as a protection for us, but mostly to add support to other farmers battling against the oppressive legal actions taken against the small farmers trying to produce good wholesome food without government intrusion.
The local, sustainable food battle is being waged all across America!  May I mention that not one battle has been brought on because of any illness to the patrons of these farms!  The battles are started by government officials swooping down on farms and farmers like SWAT teams confiscating not only the wholesome food items produced but even their farm equipment!  Some of them actually wearing HAZMAT suits as if they were walking into a nuclear meltdown!  I have personally listened to some of their heart wrenching stories and have continued to follow them through the FTCLDF’s updates.
Well, I made the call, told my story and within a short period of time received a phone call back from the FTCLDF’s General Counsel, Gary Cox.   When told the story, he simply suggested that we apply our fundamental constitutional right to be protected against “unlawful search and seizure.”  I simply had to ask Mary two questions.  “Do you have a search warrant?”  “Do you have an arrest warrant?”
With the answers being “No”, I politely and very simply asked her to leave our property.  As simple as that!  She had no alternative, no higher power, no choice whatsoever but to now comply with my desire. She left in a huff making a scene shouting that she was calling the police. She left no paperwork, no Cease and Desist order, no record of any kind that implicated us for one thing, (we had complied to all their orders) only empty threats and a couple of trash cans full of defiled food.  I will get back to “the inspector” and her threats shortly.  Let’s get to where it really gets good.
While I am on the verge of a literal breakdown, Monte and Gio get creative. All right, we have just thrown all of this food away, we can’t do this, we can’t do that, what CAN we do?  Well, we have a vegetable farm and we do have fresh vegetables. (By the way, we were denied even using our fresh vegetables until I informed our inspector that I do have a Producers Certificate from the Nevada Department of Agriculture allowing us to sell our vegetables and other farm products at the Farmers Market.  Much of our produce has gone to some of the very finest restaurants in Las Vegas and St. George.)
The wind taken out of the inspector's sails, Gio and his crew got cookin’. It just so happened that we had a cooled trailer full of vegetables ready to be taken to market the following day. Monte hooked on to the trailer and backed it up right next to the kitchen. Our interns who were there to greet and serve now got to work with lamp oil and began harvesting anew. Knives were chopping, pots of pasta and rice from our food storage were steaming, our bonfire was now turned into a grill and literal miracles were happening before our eyes!
In the meantime, Monte and I had to break the news to our guests. Rather than go into the details here, you can see the video footage on Mark Bowers and Kiki Kalor’s (our friends and guests) website at:http://www.reallyvegasphoto.com/Events/CSA-Farm-Government-Inspection/19707296_v2zFML#1546717636_dJJDZjw 
We explained the situation, offered anyone interested a full refund, and told them that if they chose to stay their dinner was now literally being prepared fresh, as just now being harvested.  The reaction of our guests was the most sobering and inspirational experience of the evening.
In an instant we were bonded together.
They were, of course, out-raged at the lack of choice they were given in their meal.
Out-raged at the arrogance of coming to a farm dinner and being required to use only USDA (government inspected) meats.
Outraged at the heavy handedness of the Health Department into their lives.  
Then there was the most tremendous outpouring of love and support. 
One of our guests, Marty Keach, informed us that he was an attorney and as appalled as everyone else offered his support and counsel if need be, even if it be to the Supreme Court.  He was a great comfort in a tense time. 
With their approval, Giovanni and crew got cooking and the evening then truly began. The atmosphere turned from tense and angry to loving and supportive. As soon as I heard my brother Steve sit down and begin strumming his guitar, I knew something special was happening.  Paid guests volunteered their services. Chef Shawn Wallace, a guest, joined Gio and his team his knife flying through the eggplant and squash.  Wendy and Thierry Pressyler and so many that I am not even aware of, were helping to grill and transport dishes.  Jason and Chrissy Doolen offered to run quick errands.  Jeanne Frost, a server for the Wynn hotel, didn’t take a seat and began serving her fellow guests.
Before long we were seated at the beautiful table and the most incredible  dishes began coming forth.  It was literally “loaves and fishes” appearing before our very eyes!  We broke bread together, we laughed, we talked, we shared stories, we came together in the most marvelous way.
Now this is what I had dreamed, only more marvelous than I could have ever imagined!  The sky being bright with glittering stars, we had the telescopes out and invited any guests who desired to look into our starry heaven.  While we were looking into the heavens, heaven was looking down upon us!  I can’t tell you the number of times I have felt the hand of providence helping us in the work of this farm.
As hard and demanding as this work is, I KNOW that this is what we are meant to do.
I KNOW that it is imperative that we stand up for our food choices.
I KNOW that local, organic, sustainable food produced by ourselves or by small family, local farms is indispensible to the health and well-being of our families and our communities now and in the future! If this work were not so vitally important, the “evil forces” would not be working so hard to pull it down.
We were victorious, we will be victorious, we must be!   Our grandchildren’s future is at stake!
Back to the inspector. She did call the police. You must remember that we live in a small town. We know these officers. They responded to the call dutifully but were desperately trying to figure out why they had been called. Never in all of their experience had they ever received a call like this.
Mary, the inspector, demanded that they give us a citation. The officer in charge said that she was to give us the citation, she responded that no, they were to give us the citation, which they then asked her for what violation. Even with the help of her superior on the phone she could not give them a reason. They asked her to leave which she did. The police were very kind and apologetic for the intrusion. All of this was done without fanfare and out of sight of our guests. The police officers are commended for their professionalism!
Now that we have come to the last chapter of our novel, I realize that it ends with a cliff-hanger. As happy as the ending was, it isn’t “happily ever after” yet.  This will remain to be seen in the ensuing days, weeks and even years ahead.
Tom Collins, our County Commissioner, furious by the events that took place, having formerly been a board member for the Southern Nevada Health District is putting together a meeting with himself, the current board members and ourselves to make sense of all this mess.
As so many of you have related verbally and through emails your desire to help and be involved, we will keep you informed as events take place.  I feel that we have been compelled to truly become active participants in the ongoing battle over our food choices.  This is just one small incident that brings to our awareness how fragile our freedoms are.  We are now ready to join the fight! 
We would encourage all of you who can to contribute and to become a member of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.  They are not only fighting for the farmers, they are fighting for the consumers to have the right to choose.  You can find them at farmtoconsumer.org
As I close, I am reminded of the passage written so forcefully by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence:    
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.” 
The same battle continues.   I pray the result of the battle will be the same, that we have been “endowed by our Creator with … life and liberty”.
We love you all, and thank you with all our souls for your continued love and support!  We will stay in touch. 
With warmest wishes for you and your families, 
Monte and Laura Bledsoe
Written from Quail Hollow Farm
October 24, 2011
quailhollowfarmcsa.com
Email Laura at quailhollowfarm@mvdsl.com

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Delicious Revolution


My friend Caroline dedicated her latest farm to table dinner to Alice Waters the founder of Edible School Yard in Berkeley.  A few years ago Michael and I went to a class offered here in the valley with another woman from Ohio who has the same vision as Alice - each school has it's own garden and it's from that garden that school lunches come from.  Needless to say, we were impressed with this teacher from Ohio and with Alice Waters. 
I'm hoping you will be impressed too. I'm hoping the following will not only enlighten you to understand culturally and societal changes that need to be made, but perhaps also to challenge you to become engaged.  Please take a moment to view this video clip AND to read A Delicious Revolution below.




Learning to make the right choices about food is the single most important key to environmental awareness — for ourselves, and especially for our children.
Until we see how we feed ourselves as just as important as — and maybe more important than — all the other activities of mankind, there is going to be a huge hole in our consciousness. If we don't care about food, then the environment will always be something outside of ourselves. And yet the environment can be something that actually affects you in the most intimate — and literally visceral — way. It can be something that actually gets inside you and gets digested.
How can most people submit so unthinkingly to the dehumanizing experience of lifeless fast food that's everywhere in our lives? How can you marvel at the world and then feed yourself in a completely un-marvelous way? I think it's because we don't learn the vital relationship of food to agriculture and to culture, and how food affects the quality of our everyday lives.
To me, food is the one central thing about human experience that can open up both our senses and our conscience to our place in the world. Consider this: eating is something we all have in common. It's something we all have to do every day, and it's something we can all share. Food and nourishment are right at the point where human rights and the environment intersect. Everyone has a right to wholesome, affordable food.
What could be a more delicious revolution than to start committing our best resources to teaching this to children — by feeding them and giving them pleasure; by teaching them how to grow food responsibly; and by teaching them how to cook it and eat it, together, around the table? When you start to open up a child's senses — when you invite children to engage, physically, with gardening and food — there is a set of values that is instilled effortlessly, that just washes over them, as part of the process of offering good food to one another. Children become so rapt — so enraptured, even — by being engaged in learning in a sensual, kinesthetic way. And food seduces you by its very nature — the smell of baking, for example: It makes you hungry! Who could resist the aroma of fresh bread, or the smell of warm tortillas coming off the comal?
There is nothing else as universal. There is nothing else so powerful. When you understand where your food comes from, you look at the world in an entirely different way. I think that if you really start caring about the world in this way, you see opportunities everywhere. Wherever I am, I'm always looking to see what's edible in the landscape. Now I see Nature not just as a source of spiritual inspiration — beautiful sunsets and purple mountains majesties — but as the source of my physical nourishment. And I've come to realize that I'm totally dependent on it, in all its beauty and richness, and that my survival depends on it.
We must teach the children that taking care of the land and learning to feed yourself are just as important as reading, writing, and arithmetic. For the most part, our families and institutions are not doing this. Therefore, I believe that it's up to the public education system to teach our kids these important values. There should be gardens in every school, and school lunch programs that serve the things the children grow themselves, supplemented by local, organically grown products. This could transform both education and agriculture. A typical school of say, one thousand students, needs two hundred and fifty pounds of potatoes for one school lunch. Imagine the impact of this kind of demand for organic food!
There's nothing new about these lessons. In a pamphlet published in 1900, a California educator argued for a garden in every school. School gardens, he wrote, will teach students that "actions have consequences, that private citizens should take care of public property, that labor has dignity, that nature is beautiful." They also teach economy, honesty, application, concentration, and justice. They teach what it means to be civilized.
I've seen all this happen at The Edible Schoolyard Garden at Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley. I've seen the kids sitting around the picnic tables in the schoolyard, eating salads they've grown themselves with the most polite manners. They want these rituals of the table. They like them. I've seen troubled kids who've been given a second chance and allowed to work in the garden be so transformed by the experience that they return to King School to act as mentors to the new students. The Edible Schoolyard creates that kind of clarity — and its potential lies in the multiplication of these epiphanies of responsibility, at school, two or three times a day.
What we're doing now is building models and demonstration projects, such as The Edible Schoolyard, to prove that this kind of experiential education is truly a viable initiative. In Berkeley we're about to transform the school lunch program of an entire school district, with over seventeen schools and over 10,000 students, in collaboration with the school board, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, the Center for Ecoliteracy, and the Chez Panisse Foundation. This is a revolutionary way of thinking about food in schools — it's what I call a Delicious Revolution.
Wendell Berry has written that eating is an agricultural act. I would also say that eating is a political act, but in the way the ancient Greeks used the word "political" — not just to mean having to do with voting in an election, but to mean "of, or pertaining to, all our interactions with other people" — from the family to the school, to the neighborhood, the nation, and the world. Every single choice we make about food matters, at every level. The right choice saves the world. Paul Cézanne said: "The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution." So let us all make our food decisions in that spirit: let us observe that carrot afresh, and make our choice.