From the Farmer

Week 9 – 8/1/2012
Greetings, 
 
In your share this week:
 
Baby leeks: use these like scallions. Better, I like to put them in the toaster oven with olive oil, and then bake. They make a tasty, easy side dish just that way.
 
Okra: great fried okra recipe included later!
 
And basil, for love: alright, you’re getting a nice size bunch of basil this week. What to do with basil?
 
  • Pesto, of course, and that’s really a nice option, especially now that we have cherry tomatoes (roast these separately with garlic and olive oil until just before they crack, then pour over pasta and pesto).
  • I also like to add it to a stir fry just at the end, as in a Thai dish, with chili peppers (take these from the stand, we have some hot and some not so hot—all have good flavor).
 
I was interested in learning more about basil and in reading I’m inspired to share a recipe. It’s not for eating, it’s a recipe for aftershave. It may interest you that basil has been grown for thousands of years— in Asia for almost 3,000 years, and probably in Egypt since the time of the pharaohs. They say Alexander the Great brought it back with him from Asia, and from Greece it spread to Rome and then to southern Europe, particularly Italy and France. It eventually made its way to the Americas from England, and was adopted in the West and Southwest and in South America.
 
Basil is often planted on Greek, Muslim, and Hindu graves and so has ceremonial value in celebrating life and death, but perhaps more interesting it’s said to be an aphrodisiac. Pliny suggested we give it to animals during mating season; in Haiti it is associated with a goddess of love; and there are similar traditions in the Southwest and in Italy. A rural New Mexican tradition encourages a wife to keep her husband faithful by dusting basil powder over his heart. In Italy, a bridegroom often wears a sprig in his lapel; the common Italian name for sweet basil is bacianicola—“kiss me Nicolas.” You might grow a pot of basil and leave it in your windowsill; in Italy this is a symbol to a woman’s suitor of her love for him (from Boccaccio’s Decamaron, and then John Keats’ poem Isabella or The Pot of Basil). If you do try growing it indoors, make sure it gets strong and full sun most of the day… In the meantime, see the aftershave recipe later, and make it for yourself or a loved one.
 
A Couple of Housekeeping Notes for CSA and Farm Stand
 
First, we love berry boxes. We’d love them back, too, if they’re clean!
 
Come summer time, we spend more time harvesting, washing, and packing than any other farm tasks, and we love berry boxes because they keep things orderly and are easier to handle than bags. Bags, too, but packaging is one of those hidden costs (and wastes) in agriculture.
 
Likewise with bags. The bags we use for your beans (beans will be back in shares soon) are biodegradable, and we encourage you to use them for your compost. And speaking of compost, we are glad to take yours if you would like to make good use of it. Bring us your veggie scraps and we will turn them back into new veggies! No meat or citrus, please!
 
Pie and Tart Pre-order Now Online
 
Note this week that you can pre-order pies and tarts online. The links in the sidebar expire Wednesday night, so consider it an impulse buy and click now.
 
Meet Your Farmer: Deborah Lakowicz Dramby
 
Before joining the Willowsford Farm team, Deb spent two years studying Sustainable Agriculture in a new program housed in the Institute of Applied Agriculture at the University of Maryland, College Park. During that time, she worked closely with fellow students, faculty and staff to build an urban teaching and community garden, the Public Health Garden, funded by grants from the Office of Sustainability on campus.
 
In addition to her time here at the farm, Deb works with the Eco-Goats, a team of small ruminants that clear invasive and problem vegetation naturally—by eating it! She also keeps roots in her original career path: journalism. She co-founded Compost2theMoon, a whimsical website dedicated to re-connecting folks to the farms that feed them, with a fellow food and farm blogger. Deb is fascinated by the history and act of cultivation and the eco-systems that make it all happen and hopes to share her passion with the Willowsford community through the garden and markets.
 
Have a good week and be great,
 
Mike
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