CSA NEWSLETTER WEEK 17B

FIELD NOTES

Howdy folks,

Thanks for sticking with us to the end. This is the second to last week of the CSA for most members but the last week for some! Alternating “B” week members will be receiving their storage shares this week. Storage shares will be packed in paper bags and filled with goodies you can store to commemorate the end of the Spring/Summer season – potatoes, shallots, honey, herbs, butternut squash, and pickles to name a few possibilities.

We sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed your farm fresh veggies and will join us again in the Fall! The rain made it a tough season to get through, but we’re looking forward to increased abundance in the months ahead.

Until next time,

Farmer Katie

RECIPESHARE

POTATO SALAD

We here at Green Gate Farms expect that by now you have a lot of potatoes stored up, which, let’s be honest, is never a bad thing. We’re in the heart of BBQ/cookout season, and what better way to eat potatoes this time a year than as potato salad. This week on the Green Gate Farm Newsletter blog we have a plethora of potato salad recipes from around the world for you try.

  • German Potato Salad: In high school I took German, and one of my favorite things to say was “Kartoffelsalat,” which means potato salad. In honor of Texas’ German heritage we thought this recipe should be first.
  • Indian Style Cumin Ginger Potato Salad: Who doesn’t love a warm samosa? But if you are looking for a healthier alternative, try this recipe for a unique take on the potato salad tradition.
  • Ethiopian Potato Salad: I used to live in West Philadelphia, which has a large Ethiopian population, and a few awesome Ethiopian restaurants. Here another West Philly-er shares the secrets of potato salad the Ethiopian way.
  • Olivye – Ukranian Potato Salad: When I think of potatoes, I think of Eastern Europe. This recipe can be found frequently in New York, and other urban areas where Eastern Europeans immigrated to the US. It’s everything you’d want in a potato salad, plus a little more.
  • All-American Potato Salad ala Martha Stewart: This is the potato salad I grew up with, only this recipe is a little bit more natural, because it’s a Martha Stewart recipe. My mother would have made it with Miracle Whip and Kraft yellow mustard.

FALL CSA COMING SOON

RESERVE YOUR FALL YUMMIES, JOIN THE FALL CSA TODAY The Fall season begins September 21, 2015. At just $25 a week, and 14 pick-up spots (and more forming) all over town, our CSA is affordable and convenient. Contact: members@greengatefarms.net

WHAT’S IN YOUR MEAT SHARE?
JULY MEAT CSA

SPECIAL: GRASS FED BEEF from Chickamaw Farm & Ranch
Chickamaw raises Irish Dexter cattle on their farm-ranch, fully pasture fed on soils and fauna treated BioDynamically. Chickamaw’s cattle are gently raised and never subjected to:  antibiotics, steroids, insecticides, pesticides, hormones or GMOs of any nature.  They are also never fed soybeans, corn or any other grain, they are totally grass fed from nursing to the butcher shop.  Chickamaw Farm-Ranch & Wildlife is in the process of becoming Demeter Certified BioDynamic and certified organic in addition.   Situated in the Lost Pines area of Bastrop County.  They are all about nutrition dense foods and flavor. Chickamaw is a member of 1% for the Planet, and can be featured in this short video (fast forward to minute 11).

PORK, from Green Gate Farms
Our rare-breed Guinea Hog is definitely not “the other white meat.”  These pastured hogs produce meat that is darker, richer tasting, and more tender than the stuff passing for pork in stores.  Guinea Hogs are listed on the Slow Food USA: Ark of Taste and rank high in taste tests compared with other heritage and commercial hogs.

You can meet your meat on Saturdays at noon when we give a tour (free for CSA members). Our Guinea Hogs, also known as the Pineywoods Guinea, Guinea Forest Hog, Acorn Eater, and Yard Pig, was once the most numerous pig breed found on homesteads in the Southeast.  Ours love attention and will roll over when you pet them!

CHICKEN, from Taylor Farm
Taylor Farm a small farm located in Blue Texas, between Elgin and Lexington. They raise free range organically fed layer hens for tasty nutritious eggs and fresh, pastured pork and grass fed beef on a small scale. Featured this month, seasonal pastured broiler hens. Taylor Farm only use organic practices on their land; no hormones or antibiotics. EVER!

WE’RE HIRING

OFFICE MANAGER

We are hiring a part-time 15-20 hour a week Office Manager for our urban farm. For more information about this position click here.

CALL FOR BOOKKEEPING INTERN

Green Gate Farms is seeking an office intern with bookkeeping, and Quickbooks experience. In exchange for 4 hours a week of your skill and time we will provide $25 worth of vegetables, plus other benefits. Contact admin@greengatefarms.org or call 512-484-2746 for more information.

FUN STUFF AROUND AUSTIN

JULY —

  • July Green Drinks with Compost Pedallers, Wednesday, July 15, 2015, 6:00pm-8:00pm More Information

  • San Antonio Eco-Summit, Friday, July 24, 2015, 8:00am-4:00pm More information

  • Bastrop River Rally, Sunday, July 26, 2015 – 9:00am-4:00pm More Information

  • Handmade with Love: Italian Gelato Making with Dolce Neva, July 28, 2015 6:30pm-8:30pm More Information

  • Farmshare Austin’s Second Annual Farm Raiser, Friday, July 31 Farmshare Austin will host its second annual Farm Raiser featuring square dancing, live music, BBQ from Tony Grasso, plus more. More information

UPCOMING —

 

Foreign and Domestic: Pigs with Class — and Not

Foreign and Domestic: Pigs with Class — and Not

Halfway into the fourth season of Downton Abbey, Erin and I finally have found something in common with those ruined aristocrats: Pigs. Heritage pigs, to be exact.

This week’s episode not only has Jazz infiltrating the Manor but the improbable “pig” word rolling off Countess Grantham’s ultra-refined lips. Yup,  our royal farmers are in the hog-raising business.

If Grantham has his hand in it, you can guess this foray will prove imporkcunious. And wasn’t it surprising that the Granthams would choose the Tamworth breed (the world’s oldest) over the more famous pug-nosed Yorkshire? The Tam, afterall, is the result of a cross with an Irish pig, while the eponymous Yorksire was started in their backyard.

The history of domestic pigs is as fascinating as the animals themselves. Even more interesting is how their wild forebear, the Eurasian Boar, has played a central role in European culture, food, and mythology. This Christmas, Erin gave me “The Golden-Bristled Boar”, a book chronicling its history. (Coincidently, the Paris-based author, Jeffrey Greene, also wrote a book on Bamberger ranch, which explains his frequent references to our Texas-sized wild hog problem.

Just hours before watching the Downton Abbey pig scene, Erin and I had released our latest litter of heritage hogs onto fresh pasture at the river farm. It was, in many ways, a new and long-awaited chapter in our 8-year pig enterprise.

First and foremost, these pigs are a unique hybrid, a genetic mix-up of wild and domestic — the farming equivalent of an inter-racial marriage that was completely unexpected. On Xmas morning 2012, we were greeted with an anonymous gift– a baby wild boar that had found its way across busy Decker Lane and into our pig pens. A victim of suburban sprawl, his turf had been reduced to the scrubby floodplain of Elm Creek. Green Gate offered not only reliable food but the protective services of Spot, our  1000-pound Duroc, who adopted him at first sight.

Our guest soon had a name as well. Erin called him Ugly because, well, he was at first. The name stuck. With good food and fine company, however, Ugly grew into quite a stud.  Standoffish, hypervigilant, and slightly menacing, he had but one purpose – to expand his gene pool – and he began practicing almost from day one on sows five times his size.

Fast forward three months and we had on hand a lean, mean breeding machine surrounded by a dozen bored sows and their lazy, overweight male partners. Ugly literally ran circles around them — a blitzkreig mounting campaign so swift and incessant it can only be described as acrobatic.

If you’ve never seen the newborns of wild boars, you might think their forebears were chipmunks. They possess identical brown horizontal strips that slowly fade beneath a coarse coat more gray than “gold.” By the time Ugly attacked Erin and sealed his fate, he was the father of nearly 30 offspring.

In less than six months, our uninvited guest had nearly doubled the size of our herd and single-handedly created a hybrid line with increased vigor and, we hope, a uniquely Green Gate taste.  Which made it that much harder to send him to the butcher this winter. Ugly was an orphan whose uptown ambitions brought him in from the wild. Seeing that wildness up close gave us a rare chance to better appreciate the “last ferocious beast in the forest.”

This spring we will be offering the first shares of this new line. In addition to spent grain from Hops and Grain brewery, we are finishing them off on a certified organic cover crop of rye grass, Essex rape, daikon radish and purple top turnips. In pig world, that’s about as upper-class a diet as you can find around here.

Lord Grantham would be envious.

 

Pigs on Pasture at Green Gate River Farm

Pigs on Pasture at Green Gate River Farm

 

 

 

July Meat CSA: Update from Farmer Erin & Farmer Skip

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Yes, you will have bacon! Lots of it, thanks to the contribution made by Obama, our recently departed four-year-old heritage-breed boar. (top right)

We loved Obama. Though he was large (850 pounds) and appeared menacing (his tusks jutted in all directions), he was as gentle as a kitten. He loved to have his belly scratched at every opportunity. Our son Ethan was in second grade when he bestowed our newborn piglets with a presidential theme. That’s how we came to have Mamie Eisenhower and Obama living at the farm.

People always ask: “Isn’t it difficult taking your animals to the butcher?” (Yes, I cry every time.)
Followed by: “I could never do that, especially eating an animal that you’ve named.”

B.B.F. (Before Becoming a Farmer), I might have said something similar. But now, I can’t imagine caring for an animal such as Obama and not giving this living creature, who makes the ultimate sacrifice, the simple courtesy of a name.

So, hopefully you’ll enjoy your bacon, chops and ribs more knowing that Obama was a cherished part of our farm, much like Kay Roger’s steer that will grace your plate as T-bone and ground this month (Skip relays that story below).

Knowing Your Beef

Kay and her cowboys had already separated the heifers by the time I pulled onto Cross Prairie Road. The morning was still early and although it would surpass 100 degrees later in the day, the air down in the glen still cool. I backed the trailer to the squeeze shoot and the two men, weathered from years of working cattle, slipped into the holding pen, clutching long prods and measuring their steps as they approached the young bulls. The Brangus heifers were jet black, muscular, and blowing hot air through their wet nostrils. 

These were Kay’s babies, raised almost like pets from the day they were born. A year of hauling hay, moving them to new pastures, watering and keeping a watchful eye – all the caring was abruptly over and these boys knew it. They were scared at first. Then they were angry.

After we got the biggest one loaded and the squeaky door slid shut and the trailer shook and rattled with bull madness, the older cowboy interrupted our chatter. “You better get some air in him before he bursts.” He saw our confused looks and added: “You need to get on the road and cool him down.” 

Yes, this was no time to linger. 

“I told him he was going to the cattle auction,” Kay joked.

Staring at this beautiful beast, smelling the cud from his flared nostrils, watching his eyes searching for a way out, I could understand why she didn’t want to take him to the butcher. Her attachment had only grown stronger after the herd had survived the Bastrop fire. Just a few hundred yards up this hill the fire had finally died, but not before destroying her house and barn and surrounding woods

Like most Bastrop residents, Kay had to come to terms with the chard landscape and make a decision. To rebuild or move. To quit farming or trust that the drought would end soon. And now nearly two years later that black ghost still returned on days like today when a hot dry wind blew up in the afternoons. When suddenly yesterday was today and flames were rolling down like a wave and how in those precious few minutes before fleeing empty handed she ran to the pasture and opened the gate. 

“You want to say a last goodbye,” I said half teasingly as I pulled the trailer past her.

“Noooo!” She forced a smile and then I heard in a quiet voice. Goodbye, Bull.”

The ride to Smithville Meat Locker is only 10 miles. In 20 minutes, I would be pulling to the rear of the yellow brick building, past stacks of split oak and the smokehouse. Everything in reverse now – backing up to the squeeze shoot, a sticky tag with the number 12 slapped on the rump, the squeaky trailer door reopened, and all 800 pounds of flesh swishing past me until another rusty gate closed. Even before I had pulled away there was the switching sound of the prod and the Heh Heh Heh of a man’s voice. A heavy door shut and all quiet outside. Just the smell of smoked beef floating through the shade trees and drawing my dog’s nose to the window. 

I’m telling you the story of this beef because I want you to prepare it as best you can. This meat deserves no less. With those first delicious bites, close your eyes and listen to the sound of rain, of teeth ripping grass – that greenest of grass that covered the blackened fields. Think for a moment of the joy and sadness this animal brought its owners. And how all across this land, so profoundly diminished of its herds, the ranchers and the cowboys and their cattle need to be remembered.