May 14, 2018

Farm Spring

Your Farm News in Photos - Farm Spring

Farm News

The hustle and bustle of the farm is intense this time of year. All of my beautiful cover crops that were grown over the winter need to be incorporated into the top soil before we can plant the next crops. I was proud to see that my kids were not as tall as the cover crops this year – had I turned them loose in the middle, they likely would have never found their way out of the maze of grasses and legumes! With the tall, green tops come thick, deep roots. With all of that come more organic matter for the soil, more carbon sequestered from the atmosphere – more good stuff. Also with that comes a need for it to break down and be fully incorporated into the soil so that we can inject our drip tape and run our transplants, seeders and cultivators.

Your Farm News in Photos - Farm Spring


Walking by our next watermelon field, I am comfortable with the progress. The thick roots are breaking down. My shovel easily enters the soil, and it is feeling like the watermelon transplants in the greenhouse will be able to free their roots from the confines of their little cells to expand deep into the goodness of this farm’s ground. As I walk past the field, I think about what we could have done different this season to prevent us from having to cut things so close. Next winter, during one of the little dry spells in February, we will mow the cover crops if we can. This will give all that green matter more time to decompose and beneath the ground, the huge root system will correct itself to the size required for only the new growth that follows after the mowing. Next year, we will NAIL IT!

Your Farm News in Photos - Farm Spring

Beyond the field, my favorite part of the farm has again attracted me like a magnet attracts a rusty old nail hidden in a gravel road. My restoration project is proceeding nicely. The wild area, reclaimed several years ago from an invasive species, is on its way to thriving. Creeping wild rye sways in the breeze.

Your Farm News in Photos - Farm Spring


The native bees are making a buzz of the flowering yarrow and mule fat. Red bud, elderberry, oak trees, cottonwoods, deer grass, gum plants and wild grapes are all making progress toward reclaiming this piece of our farm to balance of flora and fauna that long ago covered all of California.

On the ground (in the middle of my walking path) is a large egg sitting on the ground. It’s a new sight to me. The egg, larger than a chicken egg, has a teardrop shape to it, and the matte white shell is covered with a speckling of brown dots. I speculate, given the time of the year and the size of the egg, that it belongs to a wild turkey. The internet confirms my suspicion, but leaves me to wonder how this one egg got to be sitting in the middle of the path. Surely it started as part of a nest of a dozen or so, but now it sits here, alone to bake in the sun and nurture the next critter that is sure to come along the same path.

Make sure to find us on Instagram @farmfreshtoyou and @farmerthaddeus.

May 1, 2018

3 Amazing Uses for Fresh Aloe Vera

Header-Aloe-In-Jar

Aloe is well known for healing sunburns, but that isn’t its only superpower. Aloe has been consumed and used cosmetically for thousands of years. In fact, ancient Egyptians called it “the plant of immortality,” and Cleopatra is said to have used aloe as a daily skin moisturizer. Keep reading for three of our favorite ways to use fresh aloe.

Not sure how to harvest the gel from your aloe leaf? Check out our step-by-step guide.

APPLY IT AS AN ANTI-AGING MOISTURIZER

Aloe is super hydrating since it's mostly made up of water, but it’s also packed with antioxidants, enzymes and hormones that will reduce redness, fight inflammation and stimulate collagen production, keeping your skin tight and helping with wrinkles.

Tip: Puree the aloe gel in a blender or food processor until smooth. You can apply it to your skin and leave it on for 5-10 minutes before rinsing it off with water. You can also add a tablespoon of aloe gel into any DIY face mask. We like to combine the anti-inflammatory effects of aloe gel with the antibacterial properties of raw honey in a 1-to-1 ratio for a pampering face mask.

Aloe-Honey-2

SOOTH A BURN OR RASH

Aloe is great for soothing irritated skin because of its anti-inflammatory properties and because it contains hormones that may accelerate healing and decrease scarring. It also has antiseptic properties that can help kill bacteria, fungus, and viruses on the skin. And if that isn’t enough, aloe contains antioxidants that fight free radicals, so it can help protect against the damage from harmful UV rays.

Tip: Puree the aloe gel in a blender or food processor, then scoop into an ice tray and store it in the freezer. The next time you have a rash or burn, pop out a frozen aloe cube for a natural cooling ice pack that can help quicken the healing process.

Aloe-Ice-Cubes

BLEND IT INTO YOUR DRINK

Fresh aloe is rich in vitamins A, C, and E, which are thought to help boost the immune system. It also provides necessary minerals such as calcium, magnesium and zinc. Studies have also shown that aloe may help reduce your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Note: Aloe can have a laxative effect, so it is not recommended in high doses. If you are diabetic or pregnant, take caution as aloe may reduce blood sugar.

Tip: Aloe has a bitter, earthy taste but is mild in flavor. You can blend 1 tablespoon of fresh aloe gel into your favorite smoothie or mix 1 tablespoon of pureed aloe gel with juice or water for an added vitamin kick.

Aloe-Juice-blog

HOW TO STORE

The leaf itself will stay fresh for weeks in the refrigerator. Once you have harvested and pureed the aloe, it is best consumed fresh, so you may want to cut off 1-inch pieces of the leaf and use as needed. If you are using the pureed aloe for cosmetic and topical use, you can store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

How To Add Aloe to Your Delivery:
CSA members - head on over to your online farm stand to customize your upcoming delivery. The market is open from noon on Thursday until 2 pm, 2 days before your scheduled delivery day.

Not part of our farm family? Find out if we deliver to your neighborhood.

April 25, 2018

How to Harvest the Gel from an Aloe Leaf

Aloe-Header

Did you know that you can add aloe leaves to your Farm Fresh To You delivery when you Customize Your Box? You've probably used aloe vera gel to heal your skin after too much time in the sun, but did you know that you can also consume it? Aloe is rich in vitamins A, C and E, which can help boost your immune system. But before you can enjoy it's many benefits, you're going to need to learn how to harvest it. See below for our 5 easy steps.

Take note, the size of the aloe leaf arriving in your box is rather large (approximately 1.5 pound). Your first reaction may be to panic –  but don't fret, just follow these 5 simple steps to harvest the gel from your aloe vera leaf.

STEP 1: REMOVE THE BASE OF THE LEAF

First, use a sharp knife to cut the base off the leaf off at a slight angle. You may also want to remove the pointed tip.

Cut-Off-Ends

STEP 2: DRAIN THE ALOIN FROM THE LEAF 

Let the aloe leaf stand upright in a container or in your sink for about 10 minutes to let the yellow sap drain out. This sap is called aloin, and while it is not toxic, it has a very bitter taste and may cause stomach discomfort, so it is best to dispose of it.


Drain-Aloe-Leaf

STEP 3: REMOVE SERRATED EDGES

Use a sharp knife to cut the serrated edges of the leaf off.

Cut-Serrated-Edges

STEP 4: REMOVE THE TOP OUTER LAYER

Use a knife or vegetable peeler to remove the thin outer layer from the leaf, revealing the clear jelly-like substance inside. We found it was easiest to switch from a larger knife to a paring knife for this step, but any sharp knife will do. Note: Be careful! The aloe will be very slippery.

Remove-Thin-Outer-Layer

At this point, you can use the same technique to cut off the bottom layer of the leaf, or you can use a spoon to gently scoop out the clear substance.

Harvesting-Aloe

STEP 5: HARVEST ALOE GEL & STORE

Remove any remaining green pieces of the leaf. If you notice any reddish-brown remnants of the aloin sap, you can cut it out of the gel or simply rinse it off.

Holding-Aloe


Cut the aloe gel into 1-inch cubes for easy storage and place them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. In many cases, you will likely want to puree the aloe gel in a blender for use in a face mask or to mix into your favorite juice or smoothie. Check out our blog post to learn more about our three favorite ways to use fresh aloe vera gel.

Storing-Aloe

HOW TO STORE

The leaf itself will stay fresh for weeks in the refrigerator. Once you have harvested and pureed the aloe, it is best consumed fresh, so you may want to cut off 1-inch pieces of the leaf and use as needed. If you are using the pureed aloe for cosmetic and topical use, you can store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week. For longer storage, scoop the aloe gel into an ice cube tray and freeze for later use.

How To Add Aloe to Your Delivery:
CSA members - head on over to your online farm stand to customize your upcoming delivery. The market is open from noon on Thursday until 2 pm, 2 days before your scheduled delivery day.

Not part of our farm family? Find out if we deliver to your neighborhood.