Local Food Celebrations

Hi everyone,

Did you see the full moon last night? It was beautiful and we used this incredible force to help our seeds take off with direct sowing in our Masterton market garden and sowings for transplants in our Greytown hothouse.  Just like the moon effects high and low tide of the sea, it also affects water dynamics in the soil and you can believe it or not, we do see positive results (better germination and stronger plants) if we (manage to) sow by the moon.  And this time around we did manage it. It is a good time of the year to sow as we need strong young plants established in the ground before winter kicks in.  We’ve sown different types of carrots and beetroot, radish, peas and parsnip in Masterton and brassica’s (i.e. broccoli, cauli, cabbages, different types of kales), lettuce, endive, leeks, silverbeets and spinach to name the most important ones in Greytown. 

After the big sow it was time to catch up on worldly ecological matters! We receive quite a few magazines to keep us in the loop of what is happening in the commercial world of growing.  From the Netherlands we receive a magazine for the commercial organic grower called “Ekoland” and yesterday I took some time to read a few features.  

One feature was about the difficulty of the organic sector to be taken serious by the Dutch government. Knowing how difficult it is in New Zealand (with a small population that is spread over a large land mass area) to get out of the fringe, it was interesting to read that they face very similar issues although they (and Europe) are miles ahead with regards to ecological developments and supermarkets for example have adopted eco products on a relatively large scale. Higher population, less room to hide pollution, etc have always kept Europe a number of years ahead of New Zealand (at least that has always been our feeling).  It probably means that it will be extra hard here.  A New Zealand marketing report came out a few weeks ago and was presented by Organic Atearoa NZ (OANZ) to the Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor. The study found that the NZ Organic sector has been growing by value at 8% per year over the past 3 years. You can read the report here. I like to think that Frank's involvement with OANZ 4-5 years ago as one of their key staff has something to do with it. He visited many prime industry organisations and talked to many, many farmers in those days. The biggest growth has taken place in the Dairy industry (of course), but the study also found that there has been a upsurge of local community projects, organics in schools and maraes, etc. There seems to be a growing awareness of the importance of safe, healthy and nutritious food from local sources, i.e. Local Food Systems! 

Talking about Local Food Systems. This coming week (2-7 April) is Local Food Network week in Wellington.  On Tuesday (6 pm) we will be at the Launch party to present our CSA. If you are keen to meet us and hear a bit of our story and that of others, come to Sustainability Trust building in Forresters Lane (off Tory Street). See you there!

This week harvested quinces (see picture). You do not see them in supermarkets and I have not much experience with them last year I had them for the first time and the kids just adore them. Matt brought back home the ones half eaten by birds and bees so I can make preserves for winter. I  simply peeled them, cut them in quarters and bring to boil in some water with a bit of suger and a cinnamon stick. Simmer for an hour or so (until soft). They are then ready to eat or put in clean jars that you top up with the hot watery syrup left over from boiling. Yippee - just the sweet perfumy aroma that awaits me makes my mouth water right now!

A totally different taste comes from eating chicory - different but extremely nice too! In NZ Lifestyle Block magazine from this month I found an adapted recipe on my ham and chees one: "Chicory wrapped in prosciutto".  Cut the chicory in individual portions and roast in a hot oven with the addition of some cruched garlic, juice from 2 lemons and half a cup of white wine. Drizzle with olive oil and scatter some sugar over it before covering it with some foil and baking for 30 minutes (until tender). Cool down and squeeze out the watery juices. Wrap in ham and return to oven proof dish. Scatter chopped sage leaves and pour over some cream (around 500 ml). Top up with grated cheese (strong cheddar or parmesan) and bake for 10-15 minutes until top has browned and cream is bubbling. Serve with fresh salad (i.e. frisee endive, walnut, blue cheese, apple and pear) and crustry bread (NZ Lifstyle, page 63). A dish that very well suits an Autumn Easter day.

You CSA Shares this week:

Fruit Share:  2 quinces, 1.3 kg Braeburn apples and either 1 kg pears or 1.5 kg Pacific Rose apples.

Small Veggie Share: 1.5 kg potatoes (or 1kg squash), 1 endive, 600 grams of courgette, 200 grams of beans and 100 grams of basil.

Large Veggie Share:  1.5 kg potatoes (or 1kg squash), 1 endive, 600 grams of courgette, 200 grams of beans, 2 kohl rabi or 2 pak choy, 150 grams of radish, 1 chicory, 130-150 grams of garlic, either some peppers, a cucumber or 1 eggplant, and 100 grams of basil.

Enjoy your week,

Happy Easter from Josje and the farm team.