Tag Archives: Beneficial Farms CSA

Steve’s Weekly Update 7/27/11

Climatology 2011:   One lovely female rain late last week, cooler and quite pleasant, but still hoping for more rain.  The pastures are desperately trying to green up and  grow.  It would not take a whole lot more rain to get them growing.  Our rotational grazing program means that the pastures are ready to respond to even modest rainfall.

This week’s Cow stories:  Mesa Top cows and Jim Miller Ayrshire project: still no sign of the disaster relief paperwork.  We are finishing a new section of fence that will allow us to move the range cow and the dairy cows into some decent grass which will help reduce our feed costs for a few weeks.

This week’s cheese and herd share update:   Yesterday we had four new cheesemakers-in-training all working together with Colleen in the cheese room.  Newly arrived Chase, a master re-modeler and wood-worker, who grew up on a farm , and Tevis and Ben, a mother and son team who are neighbors and friends of the farm, and Chelsea, our stalwart CSA volunteer who has been handling the El Dorado distribution.  Starting tomorrow, for the next cheese-making duties will be rotated among 4 or 5 of us.  Colleen will have some relief from the daily cheese-making that she has carried for the last few weeks.

This week’s cheese share includes: a variety of artisanal cheeses.

Mesa Top Protein update:  We got so busy working on fences and the like that I did not get an inventory of the pork done yet, so I have not put it up for sale yet.  I have to admit though that we DID sample it and share a couple of pieces with our farm volunteers and it is by farm the tastiest pork any of us have ever eaten. Remember that these pigs were raised on whey from our own cows, and local wheat.  They lived outdoors in comfortable spacious, “forest” conditions that are natural for pigs.  Sorry to keep you waiting, but you can expect something from the pork to be available on the marketplace message that comes out to members later this week.

This week’s Veggie/Share Update:    Dena commented to me that it has been like pulling teeth to find produce for the CSA.  Michelle at the CDC has said that she has less produce than she can ever remember.

On the other hand as a farmer I am grateful not to be fighting the drought this year.

With all of that said, we have still been able to put together an interesting share for you this week.

First of the season cucumbers from Espanola Valley Farm, tomatoes, and a variety of melons from Los Poblanos,  beets from Synergia ranch, and radishes from White Mountain Farm.

And the crowning item of the share is White Mountain Quinoa.  I think we have a recipe for cold quinoa salad, which uses cucumber and even the dill sprig that will come with the Synergia beets, I think the beets can go in that salad too!

Membership news:  Thank you for your investment in the CSA .  We appreciate your continued support!

Steve Warshawer

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Steve’s Weekly Update 7/20/11

Climatology 2011:   Back to the furnace:  hot and dry.

This week’s Cow stories:  Mesa Top cows and Jim Miller Ayrshire project: the disaster relief paperwork has not arrived in the mail.  Additional hay bill, for cows who, but for the drought, would be doing fine on pasture, is $150 per week.  I am fortunate to have so many contacts at the Pueblos where I work with MoGro who grow good hay on small fields and are willing to sell for more reasonable prices.  The price of commercial scale hay is up about 40% from a year ago.

This week’s cheese and herd share update:   Cheese cheese cheese!  We hope to receive some feedback from members about last week’s cheese delivery.  Remember that we are also making fresh (pasteurized) mozzarella, along with our Salado Jack.

This week’s cheese share includes: a variety of artisanal cheeses.

Mesa Top Protein update:  I picked up the pork and beef late yesterday and got it home and we will sort it out and develop a pork share that will be available on the market place Friday.  Our butcher remarked that the pork was very, very good1  We will not have the smoked/cured ham and bacon back for a while yet.  But we have lots of chops and steaks and the like.  There will be a more complete list along with the pork share offering.

All of the meat is stamped “not for sale” but remember that applies to retail establishments.  We are not subject to that constraint as a voluntary COOP.

This week’s Veggie/Share Update:    The organic cherries from Paolo Lugara’s Sage Creations farm in Palisades continue for one more week.  We also have melons from Los Poblanos.

This week we also have carrots, from Vida Verde, tomatoes one more time from Agricultura,  chard from Synergia ranch, and our special treat of the week is basil from Vida Verde and the legendary Matt Romero.

Membership news:  Thank you for your investment in the CSA .  We appreciate your continued support!

Steve Warshawer

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Steve’s Weekly Update 7/13/11

Climatology 2011:   We had a measurable rainfall event!  We hope and pray for more.  Meanwhile the entire state of NM has been declared an agricultural disaster area due to drought, along with all contiguous counties.  Looking over the land this morning, I actually think the best hope we have for recovery of our forage for the summer is a hail storm.  This may seem odd, but with the hail sitting on the ground and soaking slowly in, the grasses really take off.

This week’s Cow stories:  Mesa Top cows and Jim Miller Ayrshire project: I am now feeding hay to all of the cows.  They are just not getting the nutrition they need because there is no grass.   Some of the older cows are suffering a bit, but I think we can take care of them.  The disaster designation means that if I can find the time to sit in the local FSA office and fill out paperwork, I might be able to get some emergency relief funds to help cover the feed costs.

This week’s cheese and herd share update:   We are grateful to the CSA for this week’s opportunity to send out packaged cheese to all of you.  We are sending a mixture of different types of cheese.  We are also experimenting with the packaging process.  We hope to have all of the cheese vacuum packed.  All of the cheeses should be marked with a date and batch code so that if you have comments on the cheese, we can correlate those to our cheese log.  We hope that you enjoy the cheese.  And we look forward to your comments, which will help us continue to improve our cheese making and packaging processes.

This week’s cheese share includes: a variety of artisanal cheeses.

Mesa Top Protein update:  We will pick up most of the pork and the new batch of ground beef next week. There will also be bacon and smoked hams curing that take 4 to 6 weeks to complete.  We will go back for those later in the summer.  We are getting some sausage made also.  Most likely the details on these new proteins will be available so that you can order next week for delivery on CSA distribution day the week after.

This week’s Veggie/Share Update:    The organic cherries from Paolo Lugara’s Sage Creations farm in Palisades continue for a short while longer.

We have cabbage and onions from Desert Gardens, tomatoes from Agricultura, and rhubard from Talon de Gato farm.

We are looking forward to an increasing variety of vegetables as we go on into the summer, and will do our best to keep the variety interesting.  Example:  Who thought they would get local rhubarb from the CSA?

Membership news:  Thank you for your investment in the CSA.  We appreciate your continued support!

Steve Warshawer

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Steve’s Weekly Update 6/15/11

Climatology 2011:  Driving back from Colorado Sunday, helping Colleen and family move here for the summer, we got turned away by the newly exploded Raton Pass fire.  Information was sketchy except from the Raton Fire department, who helped me decide to turn west at Walsenburg and drive to SF via the San Luis Valley.  Much prettier but 2+ hours longer.  Waiting for moisture.

Thank you and an important opportunity:  Dena and I want to thank Pattie Ravenheart, former CSA manager and long time accounting person for the CSA and Mesa Top Farm for her 3 years of service.  Pattie has brought high standards of accuracy, accountability, thoughtfulness, and strategic thinking to her work, which has laid the groundwork for the present and future success of these businesses.  Pattie has decided to seek full time employment and can no longer fulfill the part time work responsibilities of BFCSA and MT.  We are looking for a new book keeper and accounting person!  If you have any leads, please contact Dena or Steve directly. 

This week’s Cow stories:  Mesa Top cows and Jim Miller Ayrshire project:   Happy and healthy and doing their cow thing, also wishing for moisture…

This week’s cheese and herd share update:   Cheese Cheese Cheese…  We have plenty of great Gouda ready.  Please try some!

The swamp cooler was delivered to the wrong gate by FedEx ground and sat there for 5 days until I realized it.  Meanwhile the backup generator went down as did the home-made, improvised vacuum pump.  We had made a deal for some used milking equipment and it has saved the day.  However we are struggling to keep enough power on hand to cool and keep the rooms from being too dry. 

Account of Visit to Shiraz Vineyard this week from Dena:

My son Ericson and I had the pleasure of visiting David and Sherry Banikarim’s Shiraz Farm on Monday in La Luz, right outside of Alamogordo. Just miles from White Sands, Shiraz is a patch of fertile green in the desert, watered by three deep wells.  Even though a hard freeze last winter did some profound damage, the Shiraz orchard is a testament to perseverance, resourcefulness and creativity. These same qualities can be attributed to all farmers.  David has gathered cuttings from around the world and grafted them, creating fruit trees unique in the US.  One treasure is a “rose flower water apple,” another is a white mulberry, both from David’s native Iran.

While walking through his orchard, we wakened a young coyote who sauntered off, in no particular hurry.  There was a group of young chickens under a plum tree – one of them found a worm which created a squabble among his siblings. David sent us home with an armload of fragrant spearmint, a bag of plums and some fig wood for our barbeque.

One of his quince trees was brought from Turkey by a friend.  Another friend owns a nursery in California that specializes in fruit trees from Iran which are a source for many trees now growing on David’s southern New Mexico farm.  (Up until recently, Iran was the largest grower of pistachios in the world – the US has now become number one – and the area around Alamogordo is full of pistachio orchards).  The climate and geography, reminiscent of Iran, are what drew David and Sherry to “retire” in La Luz.  Remember the bags of frozen sweet & sour cherries that we enjoyed all winter?  Growing up, David enjoyed these in two ways – as jam added to a rice dish with tiny meatballs, and as a traditional cherry syrup added to ice and water and served to special guests.

The Saturn peaches we have received in our shares for the past few years were also an important part of David’s childhood – unfortunately the fruit on these trees was frozen early this spring and we hope for their return next year.  We will have Shiraz apricots in our share for the last time this season on Thursday and green gage plums next week.  As Steve told us last week, there will be no pomegranates this year, also no figs or cherries.  Let’s treasure the apricots and plums for their rarity in 2011 – they are extra sweet just because they survived.

Herd share opportunities at Mesa Top:  The farmers need some help boiling down the lengthy, legalese format developed in Colorado, to a simple one page herd share agreement.  Along with this simple agreement, members interested in owning a herd share will need to visit the farm and meet the herd!

This week’s cheese share includes: Salado Gouda and green chile cheddar

Mesa Top Protein update:  I should have a pork availability date as part of next week’s member message.

This week’s Veggie/Share Update:   This is a very fruity week as we have the last week of apricots and the first week of James Cadwalader’s Sacramento Mountain grown cherries.  There are ample cherries so you can order more if you want, even by the case!

These fruit are never sprayed!  These cherries are a bargain as compared to certified organic cherries.  James is the third generation to tend these orchards and has moved them steadily to more sustainable practices.  The last barrier to certifiable organic practices is the source of phosphorus, which is crucial to tree health and fruiting.

Along with these sweet treats we have more carrots, beets, salad mix and some more baja bus garlic.

 

Membership news:  Thank you for your investment in the CSA .  We appreciate your continued support!

Steve Warshawer

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Steve’s Weekly Update 6/8/11

Climatology 2011:  The fieriness of our environment has taken control.  Dust and smoke and ash, to go with the heat and dryness.  Waiting for moisture…

This week’s Cow stories:  Mesa Top cows and Jim Miller Ayrshire project:   Happy and healthy and doing their cow thing…

This week’s cheese and herd share share update:   Cheese Cheese Cheese…  We made our first flavored Monterrey Jack this past weekend.  We are looking for the next recipe that we can develop as an MT specialty.

The aging room needs to be kept a bit cooler, so we will try a portable swamp cooler.  This will also add some humidity.

Herd share opportunities are still very much present at Mesa Top, but the farmers need some help boiling down the lengthy, legalese format developed in Colorado, to a simple one page herd share agreement.  Along with this simple agreement, members interested in owning a herd share will need to visit the farm and meet the herd!

 

Mesa Top Protein update:  in a couple more weeks we will process our first group of farm raised pigs.  We will start another 5 feeder pigs (the term used for young pigs that have been weaned and are ready to be raised).  We would be very much helped to know if members are interested in the tender, low fat pork that we are raising with the whey from cheese making and local wheat as their only feed.

We have several options.  Sell portions (such as ½ or a whole) pig, all of the parts cut and ready to store in your freezer, or we can make a pork “share” (like the beef share) or we can make a mixed share of beef and pork.  If members have interest and preferences we would like to know what they are.

This week’s cheese share:   MT ricotta and a variety of artisanal cheeses.

This week’s Veggie/Share Update:   This week we have the first of a very limited supply of local fruit.  Last February’s vicious cold killed trees and stunted other so much so that many never flowered.  Shiraz vineyard lost many varieties including all of the pomegranates.  The solution was to cut them down to the ground and let them grow again, which they are doing quite nicely.  But that means not much fruit this season.  Oddly, some apricots survived and fruited, so for the next two weeks the CSA has the only apricots that I know of anywhere in the state!  We hope you enjoy them.

On the veggie side we have the first summer squash of the season.  Also we have carrots and radishes, and spring turnips.  A nice helping of salad mix completes this week’s share.

 

Membership news:  Thank you for your investment in the CSA.

We appreciate your continued support!

Steve Warshawer

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Garlic Scape Pizza Recipe

The beautiful green loops in our CSA share this week are garlic scapes.  Garlic produces these in the late spring before the bulbs are finished.  Growers cut them off to allow more plant energy to go into the completion of the bulb.  I have garlic scapes on my plants in the community garden and will be enjoying them this week as well.  The scapes are delicate and have a lighter taste of garlic.   You can use them in any recipe that calls for garlic as a more subtle flavor.  I usually chop them finely and add to salads, fresh sandwiches, scrambled eggs, quinoa dishes and even to add a zing to mayonnaise.  I have included some recipes below to highlight the taste of spring in these scapes.

Steve’s Tip

Keep them in the refrigerator in a glass of water, similar to keeping fresh cut flowers.  This way they will be fresh to use in dishes all week.

Another tip is to dice them and keep in a closed container.  You will need to use these within the next week.

Amy Hetager, CSA Blogger

Garlic Scape Pizza

By Amy

I got this idea from the Farmer’s Almanac blog this year, but it included pre-made crust and pre-made sauce and I thought that I could make a better flavor combination with fresher ingredients.  As most of you know, I love to make pizza!  The crispy edge to the crust with a soft center in the dough is enjoyable to eat.  The crust creates a tasty surface for the toppings to shine.  I have selected asparagus and prosciutto to add a salty bite to the pizza.  The garlic scapes will provide a nice base.  Many people say that the scapes taste like a garlicky asparagus so this pairs well.

The pizza dough uses local whole wheat flour that you can purchase on Marketplace. King Arthur Flour has many recipe tricks to make the whole wheat taste more smooth and rise more.  This recipe uses orange juice to break down the tougher wheat, overnight to let it set and a long rise time before baking.  Follow these steps for a tastier dough!

4 or 5 Garlic Scapes, chopped finely

1 cup shredded Mozzerella

6 slices of Proscuttio

6 spears of Asparagus (blanched)

Olive oil

Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Fresh Oregano

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Top with Fresh Basil (chiffonade)

The night before:

Follow the instructions for the whole wheat pizza dough.  It needs to rest for 30 minutes, then be kneaded using a mixer or bread machine and then stored in the refrigerator overnight.

To Make the Pizza (2 hours before eating)

Spread out the pizza dough in a pan with cornmeal under the crust.  This pizza will have a “white” sauce with garlic scapes, olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano and you can add it before letting it rise for about 2 hours.  Add the cheese.  Add the proscuttio and blanched asparagus in a pattern on top of the cheese.  Bake at 450 degrees for 8 minutes.

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Steve’s Update for 6/1/11

Climatology 2011: Hmmm.  Yesterday’s cold front brought near freezing temps in the AM.  A hint of moisture in the air this morning.  Maybe there will be a break in the windy/dry pattern.

 

This week’s Cow stories:  Mesa Top cows and Jim Miller Ayrshire project:  The cows are doing their cow thing.  Nothing too much to report there.  It is almost weaning time for several of them.  This is never a happy thing.  Also time for many to be branded and worked.  Some time this month bull calves born last fall will start being sold.  I need the $$ to pay for feed and hay.

 

This week’s cheese and herd share share update:  I have written  up some background information on herd shares and the various goings on with Raw Milk that make the herd share approach relevant.  Thank you to members who have expressed interest in the herd shares.  This info will be on the way to you soon after final editing is completed.  Let Dena know if you would like this information sent to you.

We have resurrected several more pieces of equipment from the farm bone yard, specifically water heaters and pumps, along the way to getting our tilt kettle on line; the kettle which will increase our ease of production and allow larger batches of cheese.

The next practical issue to resolve is cooling and humidity in the aging room for summer, and also improvements to the cheese pressing process.  Without a source of revenue or capital to make these improvements quickly, we find ourselves just inching along, steadily but slowly.

We also will have 3 or 4 pigs going to harvest later in June.  These 4 have been raised exclusively on whey and milk and wheat (the same wheat that the chickens eat) and they are very healthy and well proportioned.  They will be fairly lean and should produce very tender meat.  I will have more info next week on how we plan to sell the meat.  If you have an interest in field/range raised, healthy pork, let us know!

This week’s cheese share includes: Ayshire Salado Jack and Asiago

 

This week’s beef family pack update:  It is hard to give you in advance the exact contents of the beef share as I usually pull them from the freezer on Thursday AM, and I have to assess how many shares we need and what we have left to work with.  Generally there are 8-9 lbs of beef in the share, which is made up of steaks, roasts, ground and/or stew meat.  I am getting low on roasts from the last beef, so there will be more steak until the next beef is finished and ready, some time in July I expect.  But this is a good guideline for you to keep in mind when considering whether a beef share is for you.

 

This week’s Veggie/Share Update:  Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it!  Are you ready for a whole lot of vegetables:  This week we have a nice mix of fresh, ready to eat salad makings, including sprouts, lettuce, and arugula.  We also have some cook-able greens and roots, including chard, turnips, and some of the very last of 2010 fall organic potatoes.  Note that the spring turnips are so very sweet that you may want to use them in the salad rather than cooking them.  The greens should be good for cooking.

The special surprise of the week is garlic scapes, delicacy of spring which grows up out of the center of the hard necked varieties of garlic, and if allowed, flowers and sets seed.  Farmers cut the scapes off while they are tender and young, rather than allowing them to flower, which in turn puts more of the plant’s energy into the root/bulb.

We hope to give you scapes once or twice more, in addition top this week.  You can store them like cut flowers in a jar of water, and chop them up for use in salads or in cooking; they have a mild, fresh garlic flavor.

 

Membership news:  Thank you for your investment in the CSA .

We appreciate your continued support!

Steve Warshawer

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