Ok, so it just so happens to be Valentine’s Day week and a perfect time to expose what we are really doing here every week at Ridge to Reef Farm: sending you our love.
We grow food because we love the act. We love what the act produces. We love sharing it. And oh! How we love to hear about your enjoyment -of the joy over being in the company of fresh, vibrant veggies; the pleasures of your culinary creating and the varied tastes that ensue; the feeling your body registers when you feed it with the love that was prepared, seeded, weeded, watered, defended, suckered, picked, sliced, washed, cooled, packed, and delivered right to your heart.
The cycle of love flows, with CSA member comments like this: “I had forgotten how fresh produce could/should be until getting your products!!!”
and the thoughtfully capitalized, “THANK YOU SO MUCH for all the good food!! I LOVE my CSA!”
with lovely stories such as... “I began 'feasting' on the produce just by looking at it and enjoying the scents from all the goodies inside that box.”
and... “Yesterday's CSA was the jewel in the crown of my Saturday Market Day. The quality is great, the taste is well worth the price and I am very happy to help support the people who grow all of these wonderful, healthy things to eat.
while clearing the conscience for better things... “It is also great to get all of this food in top condition without the un-recyclable packaging that I feel guilty about discarding each and every time I do this.”
and a mindful reminder of where we are: “Keep up the great work and thank you for bringing us the fruits of Ay Ay's abundance.”
Thank you for the love exchange, CSA members, and for your money which represents your work in life, which we in turn appreciate among our growing food community.
Now, let’s turn to this week’s family food extravaganza, the Agriculture and Food Fair of the US Virgin Islands, AKA Viagrifest. At least that is the web address. Seriously, look it up. I don’t know about you but I think someone is missing out on some major marketing dollars with a name like that! We see yet again, it’s all about love....
So, please come see our return to Viagrifest in the middle of the growers area where Hovensa used to be (68C). Now we have the territory's only certified organic farm where the oil company used to be! I don't know how to fit all of our produce in the tiny table space they gave us but we'll make it work:) Sorry no free plastic green umbrellas and backpacks, but we do have lots of collard greens, beans, lettuce, and much more! There will be samples of some pesto and you can meet your farmers if you have not already.
Truly Yours in Love,
Nate Olive & the Ridge to Reef crew
FROM THE FIELD...
The landscape at the farm has been changing slowly but steadily since we started farming here a few months ago. The terraced fields are filling up quickly with vegetables, which you can see from your car going down the driveway into the farm.
At the same time, the lush green carpet from the rainy season in the rainforest is giving way to the hot, dry sun, making it critical for us to be conservative about water usage – we’re watering the fields just enough for the crops to thrive.
Another challenge farming in the rainforest is the abundant wild deer population, who love to eat the vegetables just as much as we do. They’ve set back a few of the crops, but the plants are continuing to grow and flourish in spite of it.
This week we’re pleased to provide you with an abundance of cucumbers – the sweet, crispy Suyo Long cucumbers are making a reappearance in your box.
You’re also receiving the first of our okra and eggplant harvest, with more to come in following weeks. We’re growing burgundy and green okra, to give you a more colorful palate, and several different kinds of eggplant, both Italian and Asian varieties.
The Joi Choi is a full-sized bok choy (different than the baby bok-choy you had in earlier boxes). The white stalks are sweet, succulent and have a nice crunch – they can be eaten raw like celery. To cook it, just roughly chop and stir-fry the ribs and the greens.
In the box you'll find a gourmet salad mix, made of a blend of mild and spicy baby Asian greens – mizuna, tatsoi, red mustard greens, arugula and komatsuna.
We’ve included several herbs for you- parsley, cilantro and basil – to add a fresh zest to your meals. Try a pesto with the basil and parsley, and a salsa with the cilantro. These herbs are best eaten fresh, within a few days of harvest. See the column to the right for more vegetable and herb storage tips.
We harvest each box specifically for you – please let us know if you will not be able to make the pick-up. Sometimes we can make alternative arrangements if planned ahead of time. We always love to hear from you!
Happy Valentine’s Day! We hope you enjoy your organic produce, fresh from Ridge to Reef Farm.
Claudia Seixas & Jim Marzluff
R2R Farm Production Managers
WTF (What's That Food)?
Red Noodle Yardlong Beans
Yardlong Beans, Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis are a type of legume that can be prepared and eaten just like green beans, even though they belong to a different genus than the common string bean. Despite the name, they are only actually about 1.5 feet in length. They are also known as chinese long beans or asparagus beans, and are a tropical/subtropical annual vine. There are several different colors and varieties, ranging from green to red.
Their flavor and texture are best when the beans are cut into smaller sections and sauteéd, stir-fried, stewed, roasted or cooked in a curry. The beans are an excellent source of protein, vitamin A, B vitamins, iron, phsphorus and potassium.
Please search our newsletter database to find strange foods and their uses from past CSA seasons.
Wondering what to do with your eggplant? For smart tips and techniques, check out this article: How to Cook Eggplant to Tender, Silky Perfection. I had no idea that salt pulls the bitterness out of eggplant! But it makes perfect sense -- kind of like how swimming in the ocean makes me feel even better. :)
And might I suggest this "Best in the World" Baba Ganoush recipe? It's similar to hummus, except made with eggplant instead of garbanzo beans. Make a big batch, keep it in the fridge and use it throughout the week whenever you need a spread for crackers and wraps, a dip for fresh veges, or a side for dinner!
If you try this, or any of your own recipes, please feel free to share on our blog or facebook!
This week's Member 2 Member recipe is shared from Eloise Anderson in St. John. The vinaigrette sounds brilliant, and we love finding new ways to use raw kale, which is so fantastically nutritious. Thanks so much for creating and sending in this recipe, Eloise! [See recipe in right hand column]
Love every day,
This Week's Harvest
Eggplant - Asian and Italian mix
Suyo Long Cucumbers
Burgundy & Clemson Okra
Joi Choi (bok choy)
Red Noodle Yardlong Beans
Baby Asian Green Salad Mix
Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
Basil - We harvest the tips for you, which is the most aromatic part of the plant, but is prone to blackening if handled incorrectly. Just refrigerate it, but don't allow it to get too cold - it will bruise from cold damage. Don't get it wet - it does not require washing, and will blacken if exposed to water.
Baby Greens Salad Mix - These salad greens come pre-washed and bagged, ready to eat. Keep the bag closed and refrigerated for freshness. If you'd like, wash again in cold water and spin dry before eating.
Joi Choi - Keep refrigerated. When preparing, cut and then wash the ribs and leaves. It has a tendency to collect soil at the base of the plant while growing, this is normal!
Cilantro & Parsley - Keep separately in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Collard Greens - Store in the refrigerator.
Yardlong beans- Store in the refrigerator.
Okra- Store in a paper bag in the refrigerator.
Cucumbers- Store in a plastic bag in the fridge.
Eggplant- Store in a cool spot in a paper or plastic bag.
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 this 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 received 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!
Forbidden Rice and Roasted Vegetables over Kale
By Eloise in St. John
Forbidden (black) rice:
(note: if you can’t find black rice, I’m sure wild rice or another hefty grain would also be good—but black rice is EXTRA good!)
1 c rice + 2.5 cups water. Bring to boil, cover, turn to simmer for about 45 minutes—cook until soft all the way through
Vegetables: 5 cups of diced --anything—whatever is about to go bad!
Put olive oil on a baking sheet lined with extra sturdy tin foil. Pour vegetables on top, add salt and pepper, then toss and flatten to one layer. (Cook root vegetables first for about 15 minutes, then add softer vegs if you’re using them)—total time about 30 minutes.
Presentation: For each serving, tear up pieces of kale and squeeze in a little olive oil with your hands—set aside until the rice salad is ready
View the recipe archives on our website for more inspiration.
We encourage culinary creativity! Send your own recipe to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will add it to an upcoming newsletter!
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).