Preserving seeds of public trust, finding flavor in farm faces
Maintaining, developing and adapting seed varieties on an organic farm was the topic of a very long day of workshop discussions, which Dela was able to attend Monday at one of the UW Madison research stations. The Organic Seed Alliance co-hosted the seminar to encourage farmer-researcher involvement in every aspect of seed saving and preservation. I’ve learned over 25 years to deeply respect Dela’s depth of knowledge and experience about organics. She has been my mentor, along with agronomists, soil scientists, and older farmers with whom I worked at Michael Fields for 5 years. When Dela returned from this workshop energized to have learned a lot more, I know that the workshop was packed with worthwhile instruction. Organic plant breeding specialist Dr. John Navazio and Professor Bill Tracy discussed such topics as: the biology of seed, on-farm seed production basics, choosing appropriate seed crops for individual systems and climate, maintaining the genetic integrity of varieties with appropriate population sizes and isolation distances, conducting variety trials, and basic on-farm breeding techniques such as mass selection and progeny testing. Your farmers at Scotch Hill have not dabbled in a hobby here, dear subscribers. We’ve committed ourselves to a life of learning and work in a fundamental area of public trust – serving and protecting the foundations of healthful food. You help make this possible. Thank you! Faces of flavor –A daughter of one of the wonderful families that rents land to us called out to me from the other side of a long double row of tomatoes one day this week. In her hand was a contorted tomato whose form resembled a funny face. She giggled about its “hairdo and eyebrows.” Then she recalled the day previous, finding a similar “face” with Dela among the eggplants in another section of our many vegetable beds on their land. I know from years of tending, harvesting, chopping, slicing so very many wonderful, if odd-shaped vegetables, that the flavor of these sweet plants is nothing to laugh at. It makes me realize that a mass food system can never mirror the wonderful reality of Nature. Such an industrial system tragically cuts untold millions of plant lives from ever reaching the store display case or kitchen table. Is that any less tragic than an impersonal world that would have all human beings be, act, appear the same? Can you taste the beauty of diversity? This week on the farm – This past week we planted a new field to millet; baled hay, spread manure on harvested wheat ground for the next planting; mowed out old beds of spent vegetable varieties and tilled for new plantings; weeded many, many weeds as we harvested vegetables for deliveries;. Dismantled trellis mesh, wire, t-posts from spring plantings to make room for fall and winter crops; took sheep and pigs to Hoesley’s Family Meat Market in New Glarus; kept waging war on insects with every organic-approved means we can muster. Saying good-bye to our nephew Davis, who is returning to college after his first summer here, is the hardest thing we’ve done, though. He’s contributed mightily to this growing season. We’ve been able to see him very little since we’ve moved here from North Carolina nearly 20 years ago. How grateful we are that he did not pass completely from out of his youth without sharing directly in the life of our farm. Your support of this farm gave Davis, Peter, Lindsey, and Katie hands-on experience in organics. We sincerely, thank you!
This Week’s Vegetables are:
- Sweet corn (just 4 ears; sorry, this yield is a direct result of the prolonged drought, yet remarkable for as little moisture as we’ve had)
- Broccoli (starting to improve with cooler weather and weekly showers)
- Tomatoes (5 lbs. of heirloom and certified organic varieties – you would pay more for this quantity alone in a grocery store, than you did for our entire weekly share)
- Eggplant OR Okra
- Chard (in the spinach family; anything you do with spinach, you can do with chard)
- Summer Squash
- Beets (eat the leaves, too; very good for you)
- Oregano/Basil (bunched, can hang upside down in a corner of the kitchen near the stove to dry and crinkle into dishes)
Photos of this share help you identify each variety and can be found by the website or Facebook
Cooking Tips for the Week
Spotlight Southwest Salad: Chop 2 cups of tomatoes, 2 cups of corn, 1 medium green pepper, 1 medium sweet pepper, ¼ cup fresh cilantro, parsley or basil, 2 cups black beans, and combine with 1½ tsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 Tb oregano (dry or Fresh) and 3 Tb olive oil, 1 clove garlic, 3 Tb lime juice or balsamic vinegar. Serve with warm tortillas or corn chips. Also good with fresh sliced Avocados.