Salad Dressing Mixology

Our organic veggie members have been getting A LOT of leafy greens lately. It´s easy to run out of inspiration when making salads, but there are plenty of options and flavors. This is an easy guide to making the perfect dressing.Fresh lettuce + a good dressing + a few toppings = a delicious salad

Some of the toppings we love are: pumpkin and sunflower seeds, artichoke hearts, tomato, cucumber, grated carrot, apple, nuts, crumbled cheese, sundried tomatoes, citrus segments and homemade croutons.

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Super Easy Baba Ganoush

Hey guys! We have a lot of eggplant at the farm these days. We often do, it's one of the easiest things to grow around here, and once a plant gets established it will keep on producing for months. Other crops, like carrots, or lettuce, need to be planted every 3 weeks to keep the love coming. Now you may also now that I'm a mom of four busy boys. So when it comes to recipes, my main criteria are fast and delicious.

I made a killer baba ganoush dip the other day, and it was so easy, I just have to share.

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First, grab a bunch of eggplant, enough to fill a baking dish (or less if you don't want that much dip). Prick them with a fork. Then bake them at around 225 C until they're totally squishy. They'll turn dark, they'll deflate, and if you poke a fork in there, you'll know if its squishy or not. This should take about 30 minutes.

Now, if you have kids, it'll likely be time to go pick them up from school, or someone is having a crisis that you'll need to go tend to, so feel free to just take 'em out of the oven and leave them until you can handle them.

Then of course, if you're like me, you'll have a million other things to do, and your eggplant will just be staring at your from the top of the stove, wondering when you're going to finish the recipe. At this point, you should put them in the fridge because there just isn't time!

After a day or two, you'll realize, hey, the kids are at school, or in bed, and I've got some time on my hands, let's finish that baba ganoush.

So take them out of the fridge, cut them in half lengthwise, and scoop out the squishy flesh into a blender. Add a handful of sesame seeds (or tahini if you have it), garlic, olive oil (you can omit if you used tahini), salt, and lime juice (or lemon if you have it). Blend!

Now if you're a culinary genius and you have that kind of time, you can roast them on a grill to add a charred flavor. You can also omit the part where the whole roasted eggplants sit in the fridge waiting for you. After roasting the eggplant, just wait until they're cool enough to handle, and you can get right to the blending part!

Baba ganoush tastes even better after a day in the fridge, so make sure you make enough to save some for the second or third day.

Enjoy!

4 tips para aprovechar tu membresía de verduras al máximo

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Los programas de Agricultura Sostenida por la Comunidad es una excelente forma de disfrutar de los productos más frescos y de la mejor calidad de la región. Por eso el día les queremos compartimos cuatro tips para maximizar tu membresía:

1. Se flexible y creativo

Las membresías ASC ofrecen una experiencia totalmente distinta de comer y preparar comida que comprar el mandado en un supermercado. Con la membresía cedes un poco el control sobre lo que comes porque cada semana la cosecha es diferente, ¡aprendes a preparar lo que hay además de descubrir nuevas recetas deliciosas!

2. Crea una estrategia para cuando te llegan vegetales de más

Habrán algunas semanas, especialmente en el auge de la temporada, que llegará una abundancia de vegetales. No tienes que comer todo en la misma semana,enfócate en consumir los productos que se echarán a perder primero y lo que sobra lo puedes lavar, picar y congelar ¡o hasta invitar a tus amigos a la casa a cenar!

3. Lee el correo semanal de la huerta

En Rancho Buen Día enviamos un correo semanal a todos nuestros miembros con información sobre los vegetales que recibirán. Incluimos datos sobre vegetales raros, cómo prepararlos o guardarlos e incluimos una receta aprovechado los ingredientes de la semana.

4. Visita la huerta

Los miembros siempre son bienvenidos a visitar la huerta o contactar a sus granjeros con cualquier pregunta respecto los productos y su cultivación. Esto fortalece la relación entre el agricultor y el consumidor. Los tours de la huerta también son divertidos para los niños, ¡especialmente cuando se dan cuenta de que lo que comen en casa viene de ahí!

4 Tips to Enjoy Your Veggie Membership to the MAX!

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CSA (“community supported agriculture”) programs are a wonderful way to eat the freshest, highest quality, and most nutritious produce available in your area. Here are four tips to help you make the most of your program:

1. Be flexible and creative

A CSA share offers a wholly different experience in eating and preparing food than shopping with a list at a grocery store. With a CSA, you must be willing to relinquish a certain degree of control over what you eat because you never know exactly what you’ll get. Meals take on a life of their own and the process is wonderful!

2. Devise a strategy for handling extras

There will be some weeks, especially at the peak of the summer harvest, when you will wonder how it’s possible to eat that many vegetables before the next round arrives. The good news is you don’t have to. Focus on eating the produce that spoils first, such as salad greens, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Then wash, dice, and freeze the leftovers. or share with friends!

3. Read the farm’s newsletter diligently

A good CSA farmer is involved with his or her community. At Rancho Buen Día we send a weekly email to our members with a list of the vegetables they will be receiving, a recipe or two and storage or preparation tips about some of the less common produce that we harvest.

4. Visit the farm

Members are always welcome to visit the farm and to contact their farmers with any questions they may have. It strengthens the relationship between consumer and farmer – always a good thing – and encourages transparency. Farm tours are a lot of fun for kids, too, especially when they realise that the same vegetables they eat at every meal come from a place they’ve visited.

La importancia de enseñar a los niños de dónde provienen sus alimentos

Hoy en día la mayoría de los niños solamente ubican a los alimentos que provienen de una tienda. Reconectar a los niños a los orígenes de la comida puede ayudar a construir su entendimiento conceptual de los fuentes de la comida así como para formar hábitos alimenticios sanos.

Compartimos algunas ideas para ayudar a los niños entender de dónde proviene la comida que consumen:

Planta tu propio jardín. Un jardín de hierbas o vegetales se puede hacer a la medida del espacio que tu tienes disponible. Hasta una sola planta de tomate cherry en una maceta en tu patio da la oportunidad a tus hijos a observar el crecimiento y ciclo de cosecha de alimentos locales.

Intenta comer por lo menos un platillo cada semana preparada con puros productos de temporada: esto significa utilizar solamente las frutas y verduras que sean de temporada, y no sean importadas o de otras regiones. Si compras en un puesto de verduras de una huerta o te unes a un programa de Agricultura Sostenida por la Comunidad es muy fácil hacerlo, porque ellos solamente ofrecen productos de temporada. Los niños más grandes podrían disfrutar hacer una gráfica de cuando sus frutas o verduras favoritas son de temporada.

Únete a un programa de Agricultura Sostenida por la Comunidad (ASC). Este nuevo sistema consiste en huertas locales que ofrecen subscripciones de vegetales orgánicos. Una familia puede ser miembros de la huerta y recibir una cosecha de lo que hay en la huerta cada semana.

Visita a tu huerta local con tus hijos. Podrán ver dónde crece su comida y observar de cerca las plantas y hasta verduras que a lo mejor no conocían. Tendrán la oportunidad de hablar con el granjero. Incluso puedes hacer la visita a la huerta más divertida con algunas de estas ideas:

Juega a ver quién puede identificar la mayor cantidad de plantas en la huerta

Genera mayor interacción con los niños pequeños estimulando sus sentidos: ¿cómo se siente la verdura? ¿Su piel es rugosa o suave? ¿qué color es? ¿a qué suena el vegetal cuando lo tocas? ¿está hueco, suena como un tambor? ¿A qué huele? ¿A qué sabe? ¿Crees que será jugosa o seca? ¿Dulce o salado? etc.

Haz una “busqueda de tesoro”: realiza una lista de compras antes de ir a la huerta, preséntalo a tus hijos como la lista de tesoros y que ellos busquen y encuentran los productos en la lista, puedes usar un plumón o estampitas para marcar los tesoros encontrados.

Haz una comparación en casa: compra del supermercado y de la huerta y pregunta: ¿se ven igual? ¿Se sientan igual? ¿Huelen igual? ¿Saben igual? ¿Cuáles son sus vegetales favoritos y por qué?

A los niños les encanta opinar, involúcralos en la compra de alimentos y la preparación de la comida - ¡estarán emocionados por comer verduras y platillos sanos!

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IMPORTANCE OF TEACHING KIDS WHERE FOOD COMES FROM

Today, many children only experience food coming from a grocery store. Reconnecting our children to food's origins can build their conceptual understanding of food sources, while also providing an opportunity to form healthy eating habits and learn about the environmental implications of growing organically or transporting food long distances.

Here are some ideas to help kids understand where the food they eat comes from:

Plant your own vegetable garden. A vegetable or edible garden can be as small or large as you would like or your space accommodates. Even having one cherry tomato plant in a container on your patio gives your child a chance to experience the growing and harvesting cycle of local foods. 

Consider eating one "seasonal" meal each week. This would mean only using fruits and vegetables that are in season, not grown in different climates and shipped from far away. If you shop at a local veggie stand or join a CSA, this is easy, because they only carry seasonal items. Older children might enjoy making a chart of when their favorite fruits and vegetables are available locally and can look forward to them.

Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group. Many farms now offer locally grown, often organic, foods by subscription. A family purchases a "share" of a local farm and receives a bag, box or credit towards fresh fruits and veggies that they pick up each week.

Visit local farms with your children. They will get to see where the actual food is grown, and observe up close unpackaged foods and some vegetables they are unfamiliar with. They can even get to talk to the farmer. You can make a visit to the farm even more interesting by using a few of the following ideas:

Encourage conversations between your child and the farmer about the available fruits and vegetables. Older children can keep a journal.

Questions to ask:

- What kind of tomato/lettuce/etc. is this?

- When was this vegetable/fruit picked?

What produce will you have next week?

Engage young children in using their senses:

- What does the vegetable/fruit feel like? Is it bumpy or smooth? Is it hard or soft?

- What does the vegetable/fruit look like? What color is it? What shape?

- What does the vegetable/fruit sound like when you tap it? Is it hollow? Does it sound like a drum?

- What does the vegetable/fruit smell like? Does it have a strong smell or no smell?

What does the vegetable/fruit taste like? Do you think it will be juicy or dry? Sweet or salty? Let's go home and give it a taste.

Create a Veggie Stand “Scavenger Hunt”:

- Create a grocery list before going to the farm.

- Have your child help locate the items on the list.

- Use check marks or stickers to show the item as complete.

Consider a "extra" square for an item that the child can pick.

Reinforce the food education at home:

Have children compare produce from the grocery store with produce from the farmers market. Do they look the same? Feel the same? Smell the same? Taste the same? What are their favorite fruits and vegetables? Why?

Kids love having their say. Involving them in the purchasing process and food prep will get them excited to eat fresh vegetables and healthy meals!

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10 cosas que hemos aprendido con una membresía de verduras

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1. Ser miembro de un programa de verduras o Agricultura Sostenida por la Comunidad (ASC) es una excelente forma para descubrir nuevas recetas y nuevos vegetales favoritos.

2. No es necesario intimidarse por las verduras que no conozcas, muchas también son nuevas para nosotros, pero siempre te vamos a dar ingredientes que son fáciles de preparar de varias formas y lo que sabemos sobre ellos.

3. Entre más fresco el vegetal, menos preparación requiere. Así de sencillo. Además los vegetales recién cosechados tienen más sabor que los que encuentras en los supermercados.

4. Es bueno dar prioridad a las verduras según el tiempo que se mantendrán frescas. Y hay trucos por si empiezan a pasarse, por ejemplo, si las hojas verdes (acelgas etc) empiezan a marchitarse simplemente guísalas en lugar de comerlas crudas.

5. Empieza a decidir qué comer, no a base de tu antojo sino de lo que haya en temporada. Puede ser difícil en un inicio adaptarte, pero cuando veas que los tomates de herencia están maduros ¡los comes ese día!

6. Las verduras en los supermercados están limpiecitos; han sido procesadas, empaquetadas y trasladadas. Los vegetales ASC llegan directo de la huerta, así que es natural que encuentres un poco de tierra y muy de vez en cuando algún bicho. Es parte de la experiencia y no estás comiendo químicos dañinos o pesticidas.

7. Ser un miembro ASC requiere de tiempo en la cocina. Recomendamos que selecciones el tipo de membresía que mejor se adapte a tu estilo de vida y hábitos de cocina.

8. Gracias a la lección #7 gastas menos comiendo en la calle. Teniendo tanta comida fresca en el refrigerador te motiva a comer sano y en casa.

9. ¡Las ensaladas cuando tienen una buena lechuga son más sabrosas! Hemos visto hasta la gente más “carnivora” servirse dos o tres veces las ensaladas preparadas con nuestra lechuga mixta.

10. Pertenecer a un programa ASC es la excusa perfecta para salir de casa. Visita la huerta, enseña a tus hijos de donde proviene su comida y reconéctate con la tierra.

Es una experiencia muy divertida que además de sabrosa, ¡fomenta un mejor estilo de vida!

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Eat local2

Composting: a quick-start guide

Ryan riding along....adding nitrogen-rich material to the compost pile!
Ryan riding along....adding nitrogen-rich material to the compost pile!

Compost is my favorite part of farming; decay is an absolute miracle of life! You start with a big pile of brush, that looks like garden refuse to most people, and you end with a warm, moist, sweet-smelling, black and crumbly fertilizer that boosts yields, strengthens plants against pests, and adds flavor to vegetables.

If you want to get started in your back yard, start saving your fallen leaves. Just rake them into a pile and leave them.

Next to your leaf pile, you'll want to lay out a thin, 20 cm layer of leaves, at least 1 meter by 1 meter.

When you have kitchen scraps (including paper towels, napkins, and coffee grounds), throw them onto your square layer. Grab a handful of leaves from the pile next to your layer and cover it to keep away flies and animals.

Whenever you do some weeding or pruning in your garden, add a new green layer to your compost layer cake. Cover with leaves. Rinse and repeat!

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It's a good idea to water your compost layer cake at least once a week. More is fine, less is fine.  Decay is a forgiving craft.

Tips: --don't worry too much about having perfect layers. It's just an easy way to get the carbon rich material (brown, dead leaves or grasses) next to the nitrogen-rich material (manure, or green leaves and weeds) to speed up decomposition. --Build your pile in the shade so that it stays moist. Cover with a tarp if you have one to lock the moisture in. --As you add layers, use a pitchfork or rake to pull material from the center towards the edge. You want to maintain straight edges, otherwise you'll end up with a dome instead of a flat cake. A dome will cause rain and water to run-off the pile rather than soaking-in, and microbes need that water!

Our new community recycling program at Rancho Buen Dia

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We asked the community to bring us carbon-rich material that they were otherwise throwing out. It's been a great success, and we now have a lot more to work with! Thank you! After working with the material, we've realised that we'd like you to keep sticks to a minimum. While sticks are compostable (on a scale of years rather than months), they make the pile a lot harder to work with. So until the day we have a bobcat tractor to do our heavy lifting, please send us stick-less garden refuse.

We are also accepting kitchen scraps. A lot of you want to minimize your garbage, but don't have space or time for a compost pile. You can bring those scraps to a bin we have set up right in front of the farm stand in Todos Santos and we'll add it to our compost piles, where it will go into making next year's organic vegetables even more nutritious!

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Sauerkraut Workshop

We are so excited! This Wednesday, April 6th, 2016 we are hosting our very first workshop at the farm. Nutritionist, Elizabeth Campbell will teach us hands on how to make sauerkraut and share in depth information on the health benefits of fermented foods and how to incorporate them into our lifestyle and diet. Join us - it's going to be lots of fun. Here are all the details:

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fermentation workshop

Guía de consumidor Consiente

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Creemos que es importante crear las cosas desde cero cuando se puede, ya que suele ser más económico, sano y mejor para el medio ambiente, ¡y se siente bien hacerlo! El movimiento DIY (hazlo tú mismo) es increíble, pero pocos tenemos el conocimiento y sobre todo el tiempo para crear todas esas cosas que necesitamos (ropa, muebles, electrónica etc.) y lógicamente terminamos comprando productos nuevos.

Existen algunas preguntas que podemos hacernos a nosotros mismos al momento de hacer compras, y así convertirnos en consumidores conscientes. Por ejemplo, cuando no puedo crear algo en mi casa… ¿dónde lo puedo conseguir? ¿En qué condiciones fue hecho? ¿Quién lo hizo? ¿Esa persona recibió un pago justo? ¿Es el material saludable para mí, el medio ambiente y la persona quién fabricó el producto?

Hoy queremos compartir con ustedes las preguntas que nosotros mismos nos hacemos en un esfuerzo para ser más responsables al momento de comprar. Hay cinco factores que consideramos antes de sacar la cartera:

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¿De dónde proviene este producto?

  • ¿Es un producto local?
  • ¿Qué tan lejos tuvo que viajar para llegar hasta mis manos?
  • Si es un producto importado o de proveniencia cuestionable, ¿existe una alternativa que esté más cerca de casa?
  • ¿Fue hecho en una fábrica que emite desechos tóxicos o, por ejemplo, una huerta sustentable?

¿Cuál fue el proceso de elaboración de este producto?

  • ¿Fue el proceso dañino para el salud de los humanos y/o el medio ambiente?
  • ¿Cuántos recursos fueron utilizados para crear este producto? (agua, petróleo, etc.)
  • ¿Intentaron las condiciones en que fue hecho minimizar su impacto en el medio ambiente utilizando energía renovable, materiales recicladas u otras formas de reducir desechos?

¿Quién fabricó este producto?

Derechos humanos/de los trabajadores y condiciones de trabajo:

  • ¿Los trabajadores quienes fabricaron este producto trabajaron en condiciones seguras?
  • ¿Reciben un pago justo?

A quién estás apoyando con tu dinero:

  • ¿Quién está detrás del producto que estoy apoyando? ¿Es una corporación multinacional, pequeño negocio o individuo?
  • ¿El negocio tiene prácticas que yo apoyo?

¿De qué está hecho este producto?

  • ¿Es un producto de calidad, o no durará?
  • ¿Contiene ingredientes o materiales innecesarios, dañinos o tóxicos?
  • ¿Contiene ingredientes o materiales que son buenos para mi salud y para el medio ambiente?

¿Por qué necesito este producto?

Esta pregunta es la que deberíamos de hacernos más seguido. Un producto puede ser fabricado con materiales sustentables y por una empresa socialmente responsable, pero tal vez yo no tengo ninguna necesidad de tenerlo. Debemos ser sinceros con nosotros mismos al momento de considerar si realmente necesitamos algo o no. La vida entre más sencilla, más se disfruta.

Para cerrar, dejamos estas preguntas claves:

  • ¿Este producto mejorará mi vida?
  • ¿Puedo vivir felizmente sin este artículo?
  • ¿Ya tengo un producto parecido a este?
  • ¿Qué función única hace este producto en mi vida que ningún otro puede?
  • ¿Dónde guardaré este artículo? ¿tengo espacio en mi casa para él?
  • ¿Es un producto de alta calidad que llega a mis estándares como un consumidor consciente?

Si, claro que se puede llevar una vida sustentable en la actualidad, y una parte importante ésta es hacernos cada vez más conscientes de lo que estamos consumiendo y por qué.

Quiz: Tiempos de cultivo

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Ritmo.

El mundo tiene un ritmo. Cuando llega la lluvia en el verano, el desierto se viste de verde; ahora en Febrero el monte se está secando y cambiando a tonos dorados. En Marzo sentiremos la neblina hidratante del pacífico y podremos observar florecer las plumerias junto con los pétalos amarillos del palo verde y mezquite.

Antes, el alimento estaba sincronizado en ese ritmo. En Estados Unidos, cada hogar plantaba sus cultivos en la primavera cuando la nieve comenzaba a derretirse. La espinaca y lechuga serían los primeros cultivos en ser cosechados… las calabazas no estarían listos hasta otoño.

Aquí en Baja California Sur, el regreso de los días más largos marca la temporada para sembrar, la mayoría de los agricultores empiezan en enero, pero hay algunos cultivos que no son tan sensibles a los días más cortos que se pudieron sembrar en septiembre.

Basta del consumo de tanto alimento importado que contamina y nos desconecta de la naturaleza. Nuestra misión en Rancho Buen Día es estar sincronizados con el ritmo natural de la tierra, por eso, comemos con las temporadas.

Hemos preparado un pequeño quiz, para ver si pueden adivinar cuántas días de luz y agua se requieren desde la siembra hasta la cosecha de los siguientes cultivos:

  • Espinaca
  • Calabacita
  • Lechuga bebé
  • Lechuga (cabeza completa)
  • Ejote
  • Zanahoria
  • Tomate
  • Calabaza espagueti
  • Cebolla
  • Cebolla cambray

Apunta tus respuestas (en días – un mes son 30 días, dos meses 60 etc.)

¡Las respuestas están abajo!

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  • Espinaca 45 días
  • Calabacita 55 días
  • Lechuga bebé 30 días
  • Lechuga (cabeza entera) 50 días
  • Ejote 60 días
  • Zanahoria 60-70 días
  • Tomate 120 días (¡Cuatro meses!)
  • Calabaza espagueti 90 días
  • Cebolla 120 días
  • Cebolla cambray 50 días

¿Qué tal? Como descubriste, requiere bastante tiempo y planeación exacta para que las cosechas puedan madurar y proveer un suministro constante de productos.

Quiz: How many days to harvest?

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Rhythm.

The whole world has a rhythm.  The rains fall in the summer.  The desert turns green.  Now in January, the desert is drying, turning yellow.  In March we'll feel the wet fogs roll in off the Pacific and we'll see the white Plumeria blooming in the desert, along with the yellow Palo Verde and the Mezquite.

Food used to be a part of that rhythm.  In the US, every household would plant in the spring after the snow thawed.  Spinach and lettuce would be the first to harvest.  Winter squashes and pumpkins wouldn't be ready until fall.

Here in Baja, the return of longer days marks planting time, so most people started to plant in January.  Other cultivars, that aren't sensitive to the shortening days, were able to be planted in September as well.

These days we are very cut off from that essential rhythm.  We have food imported from all over the world so that we can eat our favorites whenever we want them!

Here's a quiz to see if you can guess how many days of sunlight and water go into your vegetables!

  1. Spinach
  2. Zucchini
  3. Baby Lettuce
  4. A full head of lettuce
  5. Green beans
  6. Carrots
  7. Tomatoes
  8. Spaghetti squash
  9. Onion
  10. Green onion

Write down your answers (in days) on a piece of paper and then scroll down.  A month would be 30 days, two months are 60...

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Keep scrolling!

  1. Spinach  45 days
  2. Zucchini  55 days
  3. Baby Lettuce  30 days
  4. A full head of lettuce  50 days
  5. Green beans  60 days
  6. Carrots  60-70 days
  7. Tomatoes 120 days (that's four months!)
  8. Spaghetti squash  90 days
  9. Onion 120 days
  10. Green onion 50 days

How did you do? It takes quite some time and accurate planning for crops to mature and provide a steady supply of produce!

Presentando a nuestra azada de rueda casera

En una conferencia agrícola preguntaron a un viejo granjero cuáles eran las peores hierbas con las cuales batallaba. Nombró un par de ellas y se quedó quieto pensando, finalmente dijo “pues, no dejamos que se crezcan lo suficiente para poder distinguir que son.” ¡Y ahí tienen la clave del mantenimiento de un jardín o una huerta! Si podemos sacar a las malas hierbas cuando apenas están creciendo nos ahorra la energía y tiempo que tomaría arrancar o cortar las hierbas maduras. También, si los eliminamos de pequeñas evitamos a que lleguen a producir semillas y reproducen. Un tiempo estuvimos trabajando con otro tipo de azada que era ligero y corta la hierba justo debajo de la superficie de la tierra. Ahora nos cambiamos a una azada de rueda hecho por nosotros – ¡y nos encanta! A lo mejor estamos demasiado emocionados por ella pero es divertido estrenar “juguetes”. :D Armamos nuestra azada de una pequeña rueda de bici infantil y las manijas de un viejo cultivador.

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Wheel hoe1

Esta maravilla quita las malas hierbas de las camas con tan solo dos pasadas (mucho mejor que con otros tipos de azadas) Siempre estamos buscando las formas de optimizar nuestros métodos de producción para poder ofrecer una mayor variedad de cultivos a nuestros miembros ASC y amigos del puesto de vegetales.

¿Qué opinas de nuestra azada de rueda? ¿Has hecho alguna herramienta para tu trabajo o casa de artículos de reúso? Platícanos :)

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Wheel hoe2

Introducing: Our Wheel Hoe

An old farmer was asked at a conference what his worst weeds were.  He named off two, and then grew quiet, trying to think.  Finally he said, "well, we don't let them get big enough for me to identify what they are".  That is the key to weeding a garden!  If we can get to them when they're little, it saves the energy and time it  would take to chop down or yank out a mature weed.  Also, getting them small, we avoid the weeds from going to seed and planting more of themselves. We worked for a while with a saddle hoe for tiny weeds; it's lightweight and cuts the weed just under the surface of the soil.  But now, we love working with our new homemade wheel hoe!  We may be just a little too excited about it, but hey, new tools are fun!  We put it together out of a kid's bicycle wheel and an old gas-powered cultivator's handles.

Wheel hoe1
Wheel hoe1

This baby allows us to weed an entire pathway with just two passes, which is a huge increase in efficiency compared to a traditional saddle hoe. We are always looking for ways to optimize our production methods so we can offer even more variety to our CSA members and veggie stand customers.

What do you think of our homemade wheel hoe? :)

Wheel hoe2
Wheel hoe2

Semillas criollas

English version: http://bit.ly/1Ml3nWSDSC_0108

Guardamos nuestras semillas criollas, principalmente para tomar un paso hacia la autosuficiencia, reduciendo así  la dependencia hacia las importaciones la cual es uno de nuestras grandes metas. Ésta esta la razón por la cual hacemos nuestra propia composta, del por qué fermentamos nuestro propio extracto de pescado y por qué empezamos a cultivar nuestros propios alimentos en el inicio. Actualmente preservamos las semillas de la fruta de nuestras berenjenas, pimientos y tomates.

Existen muchas razones por las cuales guardar las semillas; durante el siglo pasado se desplomó la cantidad de variedades de herencia debido a la carencia de jardineros guardando y cambiando sus propias semillas. Cuando los granjeros dependen de las empresas comerciales de semillas, cualquier semilla que se vende poco o sale lento simplemente es desechada  de la producción y desaparecen, por eso, guardar semillas es muy importante para la preservación de la diversidad genética.

La pérdida de variedades resulta en una menor variabilidad genética en las plantas de alimentos. Menos variabilidad significa una menor capacidad de adaptación a adversidades tales como enfermedades o cambios climáticos. Cada vez que se pierde una variedad de semilla perdemos otra oportunidad de alimentarnos en un mundo de cambios climáticos y disminución de recursos. Guardar semillas también ayuda a retener la resistencia que tiene la planta a plagas.

Cada año seleccionamos las plantas que crecen de la forma más feliz en nuestra huerta. ¿A qué nos referimos con plantas felices? Pues a las plantas que sufren menos en el clima, las que prosperan mejor en el tipo de suelo que tenemos y son menos afectadas por las plagas que existen en la región. A través del tiempo, eventualmente crearemos nuestras propias variedades de semillas que son climatizadas a las condiciones locales y específicas de Rancho Buen Día.

Cada hortaliza tiene una manera diferente de cosechar sus semillas; cosechamos los tomates y pimientos cuando la fruta está madura lo cual es una señal de que la semilla también lo está. Almacenar las semillas de pimiento es tan sencillo como tomar la fruta, sacarle las semillas, dejarlas secar y colocarlas en un sobre.

seeds

El proceso para los tomates es casi igual de sencillo, sus semillas vienen englobadas en gel que ayuda que pasan por el Sistema digestivo de animales sin resultar dañadas. Para guardarlas, primero tenemos que macerar la fruta en un plato de agua hondo, darles un par de días para que fermenten, luego escurrir el agua, piel y pedacitos de tomate, al último dejarlas secar.

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Cuando la berenjena está lista para comerse, a sus semillas aún les falta un poco para madurar, entonces para cosecharlas es necesario permitir que la madure totalmente en la viña. Es muy sencillo saber cuándo las berenjenas Rosa Bianca están listas porque cambian de color de blancas con lila a amarillo. Ya maduras, las cortamos, sacamos las semillas, se dejan secan y las guardamos hasta que llegue el tiempo de sembrarlas.

Si quieres saber más sobre como guardar semillas visítenos en la huerta y con mucho gusto les platicamos todo lo que sabemos :)

Saving Seeds

Artículo en español: http://bit.ly/1P0o550 DSC_0108

We save our heirloom seeds; mostly as a step towards self-sustainability--reducing our reliance on outside imports is a huge goal.  It’s why we make our own compost, why we ferment our own fish extract, and why we got into growing our own food in the first place!  We currently save our heirloom eggplant, pepper, and tomato seeds.  

There are many more reasons to save seeds; during the 1900's there was a startling drop in the number of heirloom varieties due to lack of gardeners saving and trading their own seeds. When farmers rely on commercial seed companies, any seeds that sell slowly simply get dropped from production and disappear. Saving seeds is important for preserving genetic diversity.

This loss of varieties translates into lower genetic variability in our food plants. Lower variability means lower adaptability to stresses such as disease or climate change. Each time a seed variety is lost, we lose another chance to feed ourselves in a world of changing climate and shrinking resources. Saving seeds also helps retain plants´ pest resistance.

Every year we select plants that grow the happiest on our farm.  Over time, we’ll eventually create our own strains of heirlooms that are acclimatized to our specific, local conditions at Rancho Buen Dia.

Each plant has a different was of harvesting its seeds; we harvest the tomatoes and peppers when they’re ripe, which means the seed is already mature.  Saving pepper seeds is simply a matter of grabbing a ripe fruit, picking out the seeds, and letting them dry out before packing them into an envelope.

seeds

Tomatoes are only slightly more involved.  Their seeds come encased in gel to help them pass through the digestive system of animals unharmed.  To save them, we first have to mash the fruit in a bowl of water, let them ferment for a day or two, then drain the water, rinse the skin and tomato bits off, and dry them out.

tomato-seeds-940x626

When eggplants are ripe for eating, their seeds are still a little immature.  So to save their seeds, we have to let the fruit ripen fully on the vine.  Our heirloom Rosa Biancas are easy to spot when they are ripe: they turn from white with lavender stripes to yellow.  Then, we cut them open and pick out the seeds, let them dry, and pack them away for planting time.

For a great article on the historical practice of seed-saving and breeding, we enjoyed this article from the New Yorker.

Pros and Cons of being a CSA member

BLOG CSA consists of a community of individuals who support a farm operation where the growers and consumers provide mutual support and share the risks and benefits of food production. The members are "share-holders" of the farm and pay in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation. In return, they receive shares in the farm's bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production.

Our 2015-2016 CSA season was a blast! Last year´s members are already signing up for this coming season and looking forward to receiving fresh local organic veggies every week again. CSA is an alternative mode of food-shopping, although it is fun and rewarding, it´s not for everyone. Here is a handy list of pros and cons of being a CSA member to help you decide if it may be for you:

Pro: You're supporting a specific local farm sans middleman.

You have a window into a growing season for a small, family-run farm business. You are welcome to visit the farm and encouraged to get to know your farmers. Your contribution means a lot to the farm's financial security, which can be so fragile and vulnerable to chance (weather conditions, etc.). By paying up front, you're ensuring them sales throughout the season.

Con: You're limited to that farm.

And what if that farm gets tomato blight? Or seems to have a problem with small insects biting holes in Swiss chard leaves? Maybe you just don't care for their bumper crop of eggplant, or wish there were more cucumbers. Your weekly share includes what´s available on the farm, some weeks there may be lost of tomatoes and another just a few. In Rancho Buen Día we try to balance the vegetables members receive each week and strive to provide variety and consistency when needed.

Pro: The food is fresh.

This is farm-to-table food in realtime: we harvest one day before or early the day-of pickup, as soon as the growing season starts. Your leafy greens will stay fresh longer, because they're fresher to begin with; tomatoes and veggies can be picked once they're ripe and at peak flavor, because they're getting to you right away. Also, we don’t use chemicals that many commercial farmers use to make vegetables last longer in transportation.

Con: You must be ready to use it.

Do you ever stash away perishables in your fridge and forget about them? If you don't eat your shares within a week, you'll be backlogged with stashes of stuff sooner than you know - and some will get wasted. Joining a CSA is great ways to cook more, plus you´ll regularly receive recipies relating to the contents of your share. If you are going to be away for a week or are feeling overwhelmed with the amount of food you can: split a share with a friend, and alternate weeks to pick up; use a juicer; or our personal favourite, entertain more!

Pro: It's inexpensive.

Each share works out to be $146 (basic) or $271 (family) a week, if you were to purchase the same items in a farmers market it would quickly add up to more $$$.

Con: You have to spend it all at once.

To sign up as a member you pay for the entire season in advance. You might miss a pickup here and there. Unfortunately, there is no refund for missed weeks at most CSAs, so if your schedule is unpredictable, you could lose out a lot. Appoint a neighbor or friend to take produce in your place, especially if you're away on vacation - they don't have to show ID to eat your food. They'll owe you a drink - or dinner party - next time.

Pro: It's interactive.

There's also the opportunity to be more involved, like visiting the farm, sharing photos of your farm-to-fork meals on the facebook page, organizing a group potluck, suggesting improvements to pickup, etc. These are unique advantages if you're interested in being more active in a good food cause, and you'll get to chat with your neighbours and meet many of them during pick-up times.

Pro: There are fun surprises.

Do you delight in coming across heirloom produce that you never even knew existed? Do you want to brag about your crazy looking Romanesco and other exotica that you can't really find in conventional grocery stores? Or just enjoy produce that’s not readily available such as brussels sprouts, variety of fresh eggplant, herbs etc.? Joining our CSA is a fun way to enjoy all those things. You won't always know what foods the season will bring you, and that's exciting, especially when something that you might never have been compelled to buy before becomes a new favorite in your kitchen. It happens all the time ;)

Con: It's unexpected.

Playing Iron chef week by week is not for everyone. What do I do with napa cabbage? How am I supposed to use up all these chiogga beets? We try to help our members out sending emails with the produce included in the share plus a recipe or two.

Being a CSA member is a fun and rewarding experience. The best way of knowing if it´s for you is by giving it a try!

Rancho Buen Día is an organic farm located in Todos Santos, BCS. We specialize in Community Supported Agricultre and deliver to Los Cabos and La Paz. For more information or to talk directly with us and ask any questions you may have feel free to call Lope:  612-131-0326 (don’t worry, he´s fluent in English and Spanish) or email us at: ranchobuendia@outlook.com

On the farm in June

It’s June already!  This season has absolutely flown by!  We have one more month to go, but the majority of the work is behind us. The season is coming to a wrap and we are no longer planting seedlings in the greenhouse or direct seeding the field.  Also there is no need to rip out old beds and prepare them for planting a new crop, not until the beginning of next season anyways. To minimize weed pressure and to save water we’ve pulled the irrigation on the majority of the field. Now we only have to weed a third of the field or so. I’m spending a lot of my waking hours thinking about what to plant next year and how much.  I’m analyzing which vegetables were favorites at the farm stand this year that I should have planted more often, and working it into next year’s garden plan.  I’m also adjusting the quantities of favorites that we simply planted too (way too) much of.  Onions anyone?

costales de cebolla

We're also planning to integrate a habitat for beneficial insects into our space next year.  We need a way to keep dust and wind out of the field, and by planting living hedgerows along the fence we'll be able to provide a home for our insect helpers as well.  We also will plant more flowers, both in the field and in the hedgerows.  Flowers provide pollen for wasps and other predators which gives them energy while they're hunting insect pests!

It´s always good to get feedback; let us know what you think we should plant for next year!  Some new items I have planned are Jerusalem artichokes, globe artichokes, brussel sprouts, strawberries, and radicchio. What would you add?

Ingredient of the week: Leek

When we think leeks, potato-leek soup is the first thing that comes to mind. Yeah, it´s tasty, but it´s boring and not to mention, a winter food. Who wants to eat thick, hot soup when in a beach town and it´s over 90o outside? (over 30o for you Canadian folks). This post/recipe is dedicated to our CSA members who got the first leeks of the season:

Cheeky Leek Quiche:

We would love to be able to take credit for the amazing photos and yummy recipe, but it belongs to Megan over at www.pipandebby.com/ 

0512LeekTomMushQuiche013postLet´s get to it. Here´s what you need:

Ingredients:

  • Two 9-inch ready-to-bake pie crusts
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 leek, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
  • 8 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 8 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk

And here´s how you do it:

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Unroll the pie crusts and press into two 9-inch pie plates. Poke plenty of holes into the surface of the dough with a fork. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and cook until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, combine the leeks, tomatoes, parsley, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Add the cheese and mix well. Divide the mixture between the two pie plates.
  3. In another medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Divide between the two pie plates and pour over the top of the veggie-cheese mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes, or until eggs are cooked through. Let cool for 20 minutes.

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And there you have it! Leeks can be so much more interesting than a just thick soup. All sorts of recipes are possible; how does potato leek bacon pizza sound?

We hope you enjoy your farm-fresh, organic leeks!  If you remember, grab the camera and snap a pic. We love seeing farm-to-fork meals :)

Yes, You Can Eat Carrot Tops. No, They're Not Poisonous!

IMG_4392 For many of our years of eating carrots, we never thought to eat the leafy green tops. The feathery greens always ended up in our compost pile like in many homes. Then one day we got given a tip for a really great carrot top recipe. Dubious, we tried it, and wow were we surprised! It was fantastic!

Some people seem to have the idea that carrot tops are poisonous and potentially deadly, but good news, it’s just a rumor. In fact, they are very edible and loaded with vitamins and minerals.

The tops look similar in form to parsley, have a slight “carroty” flavour and are bitter. It’s a good bitter that works quite well in many dishes.

They can be eaten raw, but you may consider softening the greens by blanching, sautéing them with olive oil, garlic and some of your other favorite greens, or cooking them into a soup or stock.

So, what was the recipe that opened our eyes and made us realize how undoubtedly edible and delicious carrot tops are? Here it is:

carrot greens