Newsletter #20 – October 29, 2014

  P1030043resizeThis is the final normal week of distribution, which means I sign off from weekly newsletters.  However, with so much going on here right now – barn raising, fundraising, and our upcoming international endeavors, Leah and I will be sending out regular reports, ramblings, photos, and ways for you to stay engaged.

Contents of Share

  • napa cabbage (1-2 heads)
  • red Russian, winterbor or dino kale (1 bunch)
  • green onions (1 bunch)
  • parsnips (1 bunch)
  • leeks (3 in a bunch)
  • potatoes (~1.5 pounds)
  • butternut squash (1-2 fruits)
  • green tomatoes (5 fruits)
  • garlic (2-3 bulbs)
  • optional: dozen eggs and/or sprouts


  • Extra produce available for sale for general sales.  We can deliver next week, November 5, if you are in our delivery route, or you can pickup on the farm.  Most all of this food will store well into the winter and spring, so you can even think about Thanksgiving and beyond:P1020991resize
garlic $8/pound
onions $1.75/pound
red onions $2/pound
kale $3/bunch
green cabbage $2/pound
red cabbage $3/pound
potatoes $1.50/pound
red potatoes $1.75/pound
  • TODAY is the official final distribution day.  You can get an extra share box, November 5, for your standard weekly charge.  If you have contributed 5 hours of time to the farm this season then this extra week is on the house.
  • Soul Fire handcrafted calendula-comfrey salve made with olive oil, beeswax and our own naturally grown herbs. Ample 4 ounce jars for only $9 (50% of retail). Show some love to your skin as autumn air advances. Free delivery with your CSA share on October 22 and 29. Order ahead. Limited availability.  Sign up form here.
  • Please read about our plans for Sabbatical next year as we take the time to do some powerful reflection and development our organization, infrastructure and international networks of solidarity with farmers.
  • Please RETURN YOUR BOXES.  You can leave them where you get your delivery. If you break them down, please make sure not to tear or bend any of the tabs, or just leave the assembled box for us and we are happy to break it down.  We will pickup all boxes at the standard delivery time next week
  • WASHING YOUR VEGGIES.  We do not extensively wash veggies before delivering them to you.  We will do some washing if there is a lot of dirt on greens and we always rinse root crops.  In general, this allows the food to stay fresher longer.  It also means you need to wash your veggies before consuming them.  For greens: fill a bowl with cold water.  Soak greens in water for a minute.  Drain water and repeat two more times.  Dirt will rinse to the bottom.  Bugs should float to the top.
  • All of our newsletters are archived on our website, along with lots more, including educational resources and more recipes.  Thanks!

Food Justice
– Land Grabbing and Resistance in the United States P1030066resize

Across the United States, communities are fighting to defend the resources they need to produce food. On this World Food Day, Oakland-based Food First/the Institute for Food & Development Policy and the Netherlands-based Transnational Institute release a report exploring how corporate control of the food system is undermining the livelihoods of farmers, farmworkers, fisherpeople, communities of color, and indigenous peoples in the United States. The report also cites numerous examples of community-based resistance, grassroots solidarity, and broad-based alliances that are resisting the corporate takeover of land and resources.

While a new wave of “land grabbing” has been sweeping the globe, the trend is not confined to poor countries of the Global South, the report argues. In the United States, land and other resources are being concentrated in the hands of new financial and institutional actors—thanks to policies that favor profits over people, and finance over food. The report identifies five cross-cutting themes that affect how land and resource grabs are occurring: labor, race, finance, water, and climate. These areas, the report notes, are also important sites of resistance and potential transformation.FullSizeRenderresize

Titled “Land and Resource Grabs in the United States: Five sites of struggle and potential transformation,” the report is authored by Food First researchers Zoe Brent and Tanya Kerssen. It is the seventh issue in Food First’s Land & Sovereignty in the Americas briefs series, which pulls together research and analysis from activists and scholars working to understand and halt the alarming trend in land grabbing—from rural Brazil and Central America to US cities like Oakland and Detroit—and to support communities in their efforts to protect their lands as the basis for self-determination, food justice, and food sovereignty. The series is a project of the Land & Sovereignty in the Americas Activist-Researcher collective, coordinated by Food First.

The full brief is available for free download at:

To learn more about the Land & Sovereignty in the Americas Collective project, visit:

Recipe – Fried Green Tomatoes
If you haven’t pickled all your green tomatoes yet from last week’s recipe, here is another fabulous way to enjoy these end of season treats.

Serves 4 as a side dish.Ingredients

  • 3 medium, firm green tomatoes
  • Salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning (optional)
  • 1/2 cup milk or buttermilk OR dairy free/vegan substitute (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal (fine white cornmeal is ideal but yellow is fine)
  • 1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs OR gluten free flour mix
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oilP1030061resize


  1. Cut unpeeled tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle slices with salt. Let tomato slices stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place in separate shallow bowls: the flour and Cajun seasoning (if using), milk and egg, and bread crumbs and cornmeal.
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat. Beat the egg and the milk together. Dip tomato slices in the flour-seasoning mix, then milk-egg mixture, then the cornmeal-bread crumb mix. In the skillet, fry half of the coated tomato slices at a time, for 3-5 minutes on each side or until brown. Set the cooked tomatoes on paper towels to drain.

Farm NewsP1030046resize
After a week of cold rain, the sun blessed us on Saturday for our final community workday skillshare of the season.  And then it rained Sunday as well!  Wow!  We have someone on our side.  It almost seems as if the combined energy of our community parted the cloud cover, just long enough to bask in the brilliance of the autumn sun and each other’s presence.  We planted over 5000 cloves of garlic, cleared the retired tomato plants from the high tunnel and prepared the beds for spring planting, and even finished the weekly brussel sprout harvest.  Thank you to our volunteers from RPI, Russell Sage, and Goddard College, as well as FarmShare holders, neighbors, family, and friends.  The kids ran free in the forest climbing rope and learning to cook on a camp fire.  And live music gracing us from dear friends Taina and Gaetano at lunch.
We also shared in a gratitude dinner for Capers and Lissa.  This is Capers final week on the farm, bringing to a close a two year run here at Soul Fire.  We are eternally grateful to Capers for bringing her attention to beauty and detail, her unassuming, unflinching commitment to the work at hand not matter what the circumstances.  And a damn hard worker at that!  Improving systems.  Soil fertility.  Her explosive love and connection.  Her laugh and dedication to justice.  Fortunately, Capers is not going far, in fact, her new nest is in north Troy, and will be bringing her extensive farming skills to Monkshood Farm.  We will miss you Capers!  We also celebrated Lissa for her dedication to the farm in body and spirit this season.  Her soft gentle way of connecting with everyone she meets has spread like a blanket over the farm this season.  Lissa has one more week with us before she moves to the big city, New York, to ensure she can dance as much, and whenever she wants.
After an incredible season of so much learning, inspiration, victories, lessons learned, lots of unanswered questions, love and food, we take a moment to remember precious moments.  Hundreds of youth getting to touch soil, harvest and cook food, clean their plate of delicious healthy farm food, all the while being reclaiming an ancestral right to be connected to land.  A library of alternative advertisements for healthy food written and created by young people.  A teen removing his shoes and the earth delivering him a long-obscured memory of his grandmother teaching him about plants and insects.  All the young people taking their shoes off to let the mud squish between their toes, many for the first time.  Working with young men in the caught up in the in-justice system.  Teaching, and learning from, inspired men in prison.  Interviews.  Radio shows.  Publications.  Bountiful food beyond our expectations, in pursuit of returning our soil to it’s optimal, pre-modern agricutlure state.  Connecting with old friends and family and welcoming new friends.  Filming in the fields.  Two immersion programs.  The sunrises.  Sunsets.  Rain.  The incredible commitment of our farm crew.  Summer Soulstice dance party.  Hosting organizational retreats.  Planting an  orchard.  Herbal salves.  Foot baths for guests.  Workdays.  Skill shares.  And so much more…The abundance can be overwhelming, and get lost in the swells of life.  So we take a moment to inhabit the life that we have created with each other and you.  I was gifted a headband by Junsan with Japanese characters.  When asked what hey mean, she responded, “Celebrate.  Dance.  When things are hard.  Celebrate.  When things are good celebrate this life.”  So I have been wearing it on my head (as seen in some of the photos from the week) to remind me to always celebrate, no matter what.  There is always blessing available to us.  We only have to remain open.Also, I must take a moment to note all the thank you notes we received.  You did not just send your payment checks to us in the mail, but thank you cards, drawings, watercolors, pictures from your kids.  Gratitude emails about the food and our work.  After last weekend’s workday, we found a framed picture on leaning against the wall.  The photograph is of women farming rice terraced hillside in Japan.  A card from Junsan accompanied the picture that I think are appropriate last words for the season…Thank you send many weeks beautiful garden things, P1020998resize
all great food from your soul.
I send this calendar of Japanese rice field
if you can read this poem this is my country.
Soul and spirit with land.
One of the woman this picture she is 86 years old.
Still take care land.
I don’t know myself, how strong like her.
Pray for peace on earth. I try step by step.
Bow 3 times to you Leah-san Jonah-san.”
And bow to you, our farm community, 3 times in abundant gratitude of your faith in us to feed you and your family, and believing in us to make our small contribution to healing this world.