Sunday, August 29, 2010

Funny How Time Slips Away

Today I went through the pictures on our camera and found quite a few from the past month or so. It seems I've gotten a little behind sharing pictures and other tidbits on this here blog - so I'll be doing that. But before I get there, I do want to remind y'all that we are still accepting Fall CSA members. Please take a look at our brochure here. Our CSA will run for 12 weeks, costs $210 for a half share and $315 for a full share, and we'll be offering a number of yummy fall vegetables including: arugula, beets, bok choi, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, collards, dandelion greens, herbs, kale, kohlrahbi, leeks, lettuce, mesclun, mustard greens, parsnips, peas, radishes, scallion, swiss chard, tatsoi, and turnips. Some folks like to split shares with friends or family members. Please feel free to give us a call or send us an e-mail if you have any questions or concerns regarding the fall CSA membership. We look forward to hearing from you soon and we also look forward to sharing the bounty of autumn with y'all. To the

These are the veggie kabobs we ate last night. Aren't they pretty?

So, as I said, it's been a while since we posted pictures and since we posted here in general - so I'm going to try to do a quick recap of what's gone on here on Two Trees Farm for the last month or so. It was Ben's 31st birthday at the end of July. We know we're finally adults this year, because instead of going out and celebrating our birthdays (my 30th and his 31st), we worked. But, that doesn't mean we didn't find ways to make each others' birthdays nice. I made Ben a yummy chocolate zucchini cake for his birthday. I also made moussaka for the first time. It took about 4 hours, but it was well worth the wait. All in all, I think Ben enjoyed his birthday. 

Here's me picking Japanese eggplant a few weeks ago. 
The plants are much taller and uber-prolific these days.

We also got our mail order chicks from Murray McMurray at the beginning of this month. They're a little over three weeks old now. Ben and I spent a lot of time getting the chicken coop in the barn ready for our newest farm members. Ben dug out all over the ground of the coop, so we could lay down hardware wire and cover it back up with dirt (to keep burrowing critters out). We also placed scrap wood from Beth's farmhouse all over the inside walls - again, to keep critters out (but this time, crawling/wall scaling ones).

Here's Ben taking a short break from digging in the dirt.

August 3rd, 27 cutie pie little chicks arrived at the Clayton post office for us. The post office called us at 8am letting us know they'd come in. We were allowed to pick up our chicks at the back entrance and hours before the post office opened due to fragility of our "package".Sadly, we don't have any pictures of the chicks in their mailed box. We were too excited about getting them out and getting them watered and fed, that the camera was the last thing on our minds. I'm posting pictures of the chicks at about a week old here. They're MUCH bigger now - and those pictures will come soon - maybe next time.

This is Amelia, the first chick to fly, watching the others from her perch.

Once we were able to get through the most vulnerable time for the chicks, Ben started working on building a hoop house. We'll be using it to start seedlings for now. I'll let Ben tell y'all all about it when he posts next time. In the meantime, here are some of the pictures.

Here's Ben. Proud of his house :). 

And here are Ben and Charlie, checking out the progress of the butter beans. 

This is Ben in the midst of the okra (some of which is ridiculously tall!).

And finally, here's Ben watering the seedlings in the hoop house. 

As usual, thanks for stopping by and taking a look around. We hope you're having a fantastic Sunday afternoon. Enjoy the heat before it's gone ;).

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ben's Produce is One Year Old

This month marks our one year anniversary as Ben's Produce! We are thankful for the support of everyone that has helped make Ben's Produce possible: all those on and around Sasser Street, our long time friends and family who support us with everything we do, Peace China, Double-T Farm, Two Trees Farm, a number of folks from the NC State Sociology department, our CSA members, the Western Wake Farmer's Market, Bickett Market, Market Restaurant, and Angelina's Kitchen (for more info about some of these supporters, please refer to the links on the left side of your screen). We couldn't have done or continue doing this without all of you! Thank you SO very much. We are sincerely honored and grateful to have you in our lives.

On a related note, today one of our CSA members and friends sent Ben and I a link to an article in the News and Observer. You can access the article here. Basically, the article talked about produce box delivery programs in the area - that they're more convenient than going to the farmers' market or picking up for a CSA. While I do think that these programs have their advantages, I think they risk trading community for convenience. The article prompted me to write a letter to the editor - the first I've ever written. These letters have a word count maximum of 200 words - and as I'm sure you well know by now, I have difficulties being brief :) - but I managed. Here's what I wrote (190 words):
While CSA may be inconvenient in comparison to produce delivery, it does provide for more transparency, community building, and mutually beneficial relationships - BEYOND consumer/seller relationships. As a  very small farm (we grow on less than one acre) without bank loans or credit cards, the CSA model allows us to grow healthy food for our community. Members' early monetary contributions (there is a payment plan) are what enable us to purchase essential farm materials. This farm box model may work well for people who already have the funding to purchase the goods they need on the farm. But this model also means food travels farther and people don't get to know their farmers. I strongly believe that CSA should and does create community. While this farm box business does create a valuable service for consumers, we hope our CSA does more than that - albeit a little less conveniently. I hope this trend doesn't mean an end to CSA. I also hope it doesn't mean the local movement will be co-opted by corporations (as has happened with organic). This middle man business sounds a lot like "business as usual" to me. 

I'm curious to hear what y'all think. What kinds of food experiences do you find to be the most rewarding? Do you feel a sense of community when you go to the farmer's market or when you go to your CSA pick up? What suggestions do you have for CSAs and for Ben's Produce more specifically for improving community?

We would like to offer a farm dinner to our CSA members. I am not sure when we'll be able to do this. We are still sharing our living space with Beth and the kids (the farm house construction is taking WAY longer than anticipated). We would like to be settled in before we attempt to host a dinner - so it may not happen for another month or two. I suppose it may not happen at all this year - but if that's the case, we'll be certain to do one as soon as the weather (and the harvest) permits next year. I know I enjoy home cooked dinners with new and old friends alike. Of course, if we offer a large scale dinner, we might have to enlist the help of you all in the form of a pot luck (but we would certainly provide most of the food). And sharing is always nice :).

Please respond here with your comments or e-mail me at We would very much appreciate your feedback - members and non-members alike.

As usual, thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Announcing our Fall 2010 CSA!

Hi y'all!

We're offering a Fall CSA share this year. It's gonna be good and you know you want one ;) ... especially if you like fresh, organic, locally grown produce (espeically green produce - it's the fall afterall!). You can access our Fall CSA Brochure HERE. Please check it out and spread the word. The CSA can and does build community. At best, we'll become friends. Real ones. Pals and confidants, even. At worst, we'll have a better relationship than we would have if you bought your produce at a grocery store (especially a chain) and we worked at one/sold to one. Basically: it's a WIN WIN situation :).

Alrighty! I'm done with that. If you're not convinced - well, I might just have to do some more convincin' - but hopefully you'll sign on if you can. Even if you're not interested in (or able to do) the CSA thing this Fall - please talk to us. We'd love to hear your comments, recipes and just plain ol' stories. Give us a call. Leave a comment here. Email us. Message us on Facebook in internetland OR Stop by the farm (but please do call and schedule with us first)! We'd love to have you.

Patricia & Ben

Monday, August 2, 2010

Eggplant Glorious Eggplant!

Our eggplant varieties are growing in full force. We have about 400 plants and five varieties. We're growing the basic Italian globes, white globes, rosa biancas and two different Japanese varieties. Most of you are probably most familiar with the classic Italian globes. These types are tasty and they are what most grocery stores offer. They are also the type that most people use when making eggplant Parmesan. However, this particular variety is also the most bitter of the ones we are growing. This is why most recipes call for salting the eggplant prior to cooking it. The other varieties we are growing are much sweeter in comparison (especially the Japanese eggplant) and do not require the salting process. If you'd like to learn more about these different types of eggplant and you'd like to take a look at some tasty recipes, please check out the I Love Eggplant! website.

Pictured below are the classic Italian globe (the larger variety) and the two types of Japanese eggplant we're growing.

Of course, this is the white variety (sweeter than the classic globe).

And this is the rosa bianca variety.

If the I Love Eggplant! site doesn't give you enough ideas on what to do with your eggplant, let me offer you a few more suggestions. Last week (July 26th) was Ben's birthday. For his birthday I made chocolate zucchini cake and for dinner, moussaka. Moussaka takes quite a while to make (almost 3 hours including prep and bakind time) - but it is well worth it! Here's a link to the recipe I used. I did not salt the eggplant. Also, I think that while the breading was tasty, I could definitely forgoe it in the future so as to cut down on the prep time. I think next time I'm just going to sprinkle bread crumbs into the mix. Finally, since we did not have ground lamb on hand, I used ground beef. While lamb is better for this recipe, the spices in the beef worked well (and since I couldn't find all the necessary spices the recipe called for, I used a pumpkin pie spice mix we had - which also worked well). 

A much easier way to make an eggplant dish is to make the classic Baba Ganoush dish. You simply roast the eggplant, scoop it out and puree it with the other ingredients. You will need to get tahini (sesame paste) to make this dish. If you're not familiar with it, here's some info. Here's a link to a particularly tasty recipe (I don't think the parsley, cilantro or chili powder are essential - but you definitely need the rest of the ingredients).

Finally, the Japanese eggplant varieties lend themselves to easy stir fry. We like to eat them in a green coconut curry. The Italian varieties are great for grilling.

I hope I've been able to help y'all get the creative juices flowing. Please do submit any recipes you enjoy or any other comments regarding the recipes or info I've posted here.

Thanks for stopping by! And for a little fun, I'll leave you with a couple images of some eggplant critters :).

Eggplant penguins

Eggpant chicken