Part of being a certified organic farm that we know all too well is record keeping, but this week we can focus on record breaking! The CSA is full, 90 members strong, and a waiting list is going (we are careful at first, but we could add more memberships if things keep going this well)!
This season is 3 times any prior season for the CSA and we are just getting started. It seems every week in the past 4 years of Ridge to Reef Farm things have been progressing slowly and surely, with set-backs and challenges aplenty but still a consistent march towards reaching our long-term food production goals.
With the new leadership of farm production managers Jim and Claudia, the farm crew's production and direction have taken flight. Make sure to show them and farm crew your appreciation when you can! You can join our discussions on our facebook page to do this any time!
Today marks a milestone, as we begin the largest and most expansive CSA that the region has ever seen! The collards were selected, sliced and washed. The root crop radishes and turnips were pulled, shaken, and dunked. The bok choy, tatsoi, and mizuna greens were carefully cut, rinsed, and boxed. The herbs were selected to promote future growth, and banded in robust bunches. For some, banana trees fell, and for others, fresh roasted coffee from our eco-conscious friends in Puerto Rico was unsealed for the first time and placed in smaller 1 pound bags and then again heat sealed for maximum freshness.
In the end, I could hardly believe that is all fit in our new converted passenger/now delivery van that we scored from the old Hovensa fleet! It was high-fives and huge smiles all around the farm crew as we celebrated another record- Best use of any Hovensa asset in history! Now if we could just figure out a way for the donkeys to pull it to the dock... hmmm
We also want to thank our wonderful pick-up host locations. Teres Veho in Frederiksted, Miriams's in Christiansted, Barefoot Buddha in St. Thomas, and the Gifft Hill EARTH program in St. John! These places all completely VOLUNTEER their rented or owned spaces to make it convenient for the farmers and shareholders to link. Please show them some appreciation, and also look into their services, goods, and programs that you can help be a part of. Remember, we are all ONE community, bonded in healthy food, and these community hubs are essential for our collective success. So, THANKS HOSTS!
Finally, please remember to bring your own bags to the pick-up. Most of the places actually sell re-usable bags in case you forget:) We are trying to save 100% of our new waxed boxes for re-use, to save our landfills and pocketbooks. So please leave our boxes at the pick-up locations.
Send us your notes, comments, praises, criticisms, and recipes to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 220-0466. We love hearing your feedback. It actually makes your product better! Also, if you want to write a love poem to your turnips or a replay of your family cooking nights, we would LOVE to publish them in our newsletter to share. Well, keep the turnip thing kid-friendly if you can.
We are now all ONE food community. Growing to new heights. Fruiting to healthier proportions. Symbiotically living together, with more than a token of abundance from the fertile land of our US Virgin Islands.
Looking around and seeing the magic happen daily, I'd say that things are growing quite nicely.
Humbled by you,
Nate Olive & the Ridge to Reef Crew
WTF (What's That Food)?
Mizuna is Japanese for "water greens" and is a Brassica. Described as "perfectly delicate" with a "mildly sweet and tangy flavor", these flavorful greens can be eaten raw in salads or added to pastas, soups and stir-fries. When cooked, the greens reduce in size by about half.
Mizuna is high in iron, folic acid, vitamin A and carotenoids, and vitamin C. It also contains glucosinolates, antioxidants that help prevent certain cancers.
Please search our newsletter database to find strange foods and their uses from past CSA seasons.
From the Field...
Hello CSA members!
Our names are Jim and Claudia, and we’re your farmers this season at Ridge to Reef. This week is the start of the prime growing season at Ridge to Reef, and you’re now receiving what a CSA in the U.S. would get in the spring and summer – greens, beans, roots and herbs!
These crops are some of the most nutrient dense foods we grow. The Asian greens you received (tatsoi, mizuna and bok choy) are packed with vitamins C and A, lots of calcium and iron, and they’re at the perfect stage to stir-fry or braise for a quick side dish. The basil is some of the most aromatic we’ve seen– the heat and sunshine in this climate really bring out the sweetness and flavor of the produce! Romano beans are a large flat Italian green bean – prepare them as you would other green beans – sautéed, steamed or stir-fried. Both the roots and the greens of the turnips are edible and delicious! They have a mild, sweet flavor – for a simple preparation, sauteé the roots until they’re golden brown, add the greens and cook until wilted, then season with salt. You can also roast the turnips or eat them raw, thinly sliced or grated in salads. Try out the recipe for quick-pickled radishes – the radishes magically loose their spice and transform into a sweet and crunchy palette-cleanser. We expect a season jam-packed with both familiar favorites and new organic vegetables and fruits, and are excited to share the bounty with you.
A little more background about us - Claudia grew up in New Jersey, and graduated from Swarthmore College in Environmental Studies & Art. In her free time as a student, she started and managed an organic garden. After graduating, she farmed at an 11-acre urban non-profit farm in California’s Silicon Valley, growing food for its CSA and farmstand. Taking a break from California, she got a Fulbright fellowship to teach English and study Agroecology in the Amazon region of Brazil for a year, right along the river just 2 degrees from the equator. She continued her farming education with a certificate in Ecological Horticulture at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC), where she fine-tuned skills from French-intensive gardening to CSA management. She’s thrilled to be able to combine her knowledge of tropical and mainland agriculture here in the Virgin Islands.
Jim grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. His earliest memory as a child was sheltering in the kitchen with his family as hurricane Hugo passed over the city. He studied Plant Biology in college and met Claudia at the garden, where he also became a manager. He worked for the USDA in Charleston, collecting data from hot pepper and bean field trials. Switching his focus from plant and farm research to farming, he also attended and graduated from the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture at UCSC. Afterwards, he moved up to southern Oregon and apprenticed at a very successful 20-acre organic vegetable farm, learning only the best techniques and skills from his mentor farmer. Last year, Jim farmed at a start-up farm on the central coast of California, where he grew food for restaurants, farmers markets, and a CSA. He’s excited to bring high standards of quality and consistency to the CSA.
We want appreciate the hard-working crew at the farm- Matt, Sarah, Troy, Don, Jean, Nate, Shelli, Kareem and all the volunteers that take care of the land, plants, animals and people here, and are providing healthy organic food to the islands.
Look forward to growing with you,
Claudia Seixas & Jim Marzluff
R2R Farm Production Managers
This Week's Harvest
Thai or Genovese Basil
Farm Food Recipes
2 (or more) turnips, grated
1/2 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp coconut oil
1. In a bowl, combine grated turnips, eggs, flour, cinnamon, and ginger, and stir until well-combined.
2. Heat half of the coconut oil in a frying pan.
3. Take a heaping tablespoon of the mixture and drop it in the pan, flatten with the back of your spoon to turn it into a fritter. Repeat until you've got about 4 to 5 fritters in your pan and used up half of the mixture.
4. Fry the fritters for a few minutes on both sides until browned and transfer them to a plate.
5. Heat the remaining coconut oil in the pan and repeat the process with the rest of the turnip mixture.
6. Serve hot and enjoy!
Quick Pickled Radishes
(Makes about 1 pint jar)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
4 allspice berries
2 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 bunch fresh radishes, washed, trimmed & thinly sliced
1. Combine all ingredients except for the radishes in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring a few times along the way. Take off of the heat once the mixture begins to boil and all of the salt and sugar has dissolved. This is your brine.
2. Place radishes in a jar and pour the brine over them. You can keep the whole spices and bay leaf in the jar, too, if you like. Allow to cool, uncovered. Once the brine is room temp or cooler, seal the jar and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. These will keep in the fridge for up to a month.
View the recipe archives on our website for more inspiration.
We encourage culinary creativity! Send your own recipe to email@example.com, and we will add it to an upcoming newsletter!
Free Farm Stay for CSA Members! (A $125 value!)
Do you ever wonder what life at the farm is like? Well, we would love for you to experience it with us! Please take advantage of this one of a kind opportunity to volunteer in the gardens, join us for a community dinner, and retreat to your private cabana after dark...
Call us at 340.220.0466 to make your reservations. See you soon!
THANK YOU HOSTS!
Gifft Hill School
St. John 4-6 pm Thursday
Havensight, St. Thomas 11 am - 1 pm Thursday
Christiansted, St. Croix 3-5 pm Saturday
Frederiksted, St. Croix 2-4 pm Saturday
FARM WISH LIST
Got some things laying around that we can re-use in the CSA?
Last season we got egg cartons, more reusable bags, a blender, some garden hoses, a trash bin, and other great things that we use and were saved from going to the landfill or rotting in a shed. THANK YOU!
Ridge to Reef Farm @ the Virgin Islands Sustainable Farm Institute
PO Box 2903
Frederiksted USVI 00841
Ridge to Reef Farm serves the US Virgin Islands with certified organic produce grown with sustainable permaculture practices (and a lot of love).