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.

April 20, 2018

8 Easy Earth Day Resolutions + Giveaway

Earth-day-blog

Who says New Year's is the only time for resolutions? Earth Day is every April 22nd and it’s the perfect occasion to adopt a new habit for the greater good of our planet. At Farm Fresh To You, we take our responsibility as stewards of the land seriously by using these sustainable farming practices, but we also have some great tips for conserving natural resources at home. Here are 8 easy ways that we can help save the Earth by saving water, saving energy and minimizing waste.

Give up Plastic Straws

On average, America alone uses 500 million straws every single day. Far too many of those straws end up on our beaches and in the ocean where they are harmful to marine life. Those that do get properly disposed of end up crowding our landfills where they take hundreds of years to break down. The next time you order a beverage simply say, “No straw, please!” If you prefer using straws, invest in a pack of reusable bamboo or stainless steel straws. You can stash a few in your desk at work or in the glove compartment of your car so that you’re always prepared on the go.

Reduce Food Waste

Did you know that an estimated 30-40% of food in the US gets thrown away? Plan out your meals for the week so you know exactly what you need. If you’re a Farm Fresh To You customer, take advantage of the ability to Customize Your Box and choose which items you want to receive. If you know what you’re getting, you’ll be able to plan how you’re going to use it. You can also reduce food waste by ensuring that you eat your leftovers and freezing anything that you’re not able to use in time. If you have extra fruit or leafy greens in your box, cut them up and distribute them into reusable containers to store in the freezer for a ready-to-blend smoothie pack.

capayFandV01

We realize that sometimes a little food waste is unavoidable, but don't just throw your food away in the trash! When produce we have on hand doesn’t meet our quality standards, we donate it to local zoos and farms that can feed it to the animals. With some internet research and a quick trip to your local home improvement store, you’ll find that starting your own compost bin is a fairly simple process. If having a compost bin isn’t realistic for you, a great alternative is to find out if your city offers a compost or “organics” bin that you can use for food waste disposal.


Earth-day-blog-bag

Commit to Canvas

Many of us Californians are getting accustomed to the plastic bag ban that passed in 2016. However, you’ve likely still paid 10 cents for a bag more than a few times in the past year. We’ve all been there, but now’s the time to really commit to your canvas bag. Keep canvas or cloth bags in the trunk of your car so that you’re always ready whether it’s at the grocery store, farmer’s market, or even the mall. Hint hint - this adorable Nantes Carrot tote is available to purchase when you customize your Farm Fresh To You delivery!

Ditch the Paper Towels

This one might seem a little daunting to some people, but we’ve tested it out and it isn’t as hard as it may seem. Instead of grabbing for the paper towels, use cloth towels to dry your hands and keep old rags or sponges handy for cleanups and spills. You can even repurpose old worn out t-shirts by cutting them into smaller pieces and storing them in a bin under the sink for easy access.

Earth-day-blog-seed-packet-bright

Start a Garden

It’s no secret that we love fresh fruit, veggies, and flowers, which is why we want to help you grow your own! Starting a home garden is not only visually appealing, it’s good for the environment too. By choosing to grow plants that are native to California, you are conserving water, preserving biodiversity, and creating a healthy habitat for birds, insects, and other small animals. Did you know that you can add seed packets in the springtime to your delivery when you customize your Farm Fresh To You delivery?

Not only will these changes make an environmental impact, but many of them can have a positive health and financial impact as well. We challenge you to take on one (or more!) of these simple lifestyle changes in honor of Earth Day.


EARTH DAY GIVEAWAY! 
(Giveaway now closed - thank you to those who participated!)

Congratulations to our 3 winners - Christi, Elizabeth & Kim.

"My goal is to plant more trees #FFTYEarthDayGiveaway @farmfreshtoyoulike" - Christi

"This year, in honor of Earth Day, my resolution is to take the metro to work @ least 3 times/week." - Elizabeth
 
"Today we plan on planting a new tree, cleaning up the garden and adding two new house plants inside 🌏🌳🌵" - Kim

April 11, 2018

What Should You Do With Your Crystallized Honey?

Honey-Texture-Comparison


Sometimes people feel uneasy when they discover their honey has crystallized. Let us reassure you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the honey. We even suggest you try your crystallized honey as is! Crystallization is a natural phenomenon that preserves the flavor. Many people (us included) prefer the crystallized form because it is easier to spread on toast, biscuits and other morning goodies. Plus, you may find yourself loving that slightly grainy and crunchy texture too. However, if you are not a fan of this natural occurance, you can de-crystallize your honey back into its liquid form by following these easy steps we've provided below.

Crystallized-Honey-Bread 2

What Does Crystallized Honey Look Like?

Some honey will crystallize uniformly, while others will only crystallize partially, forming two layers a crystallized bottom layer with liquid on top. The crystals themselves may vary as well, from fine crystals to larger, grittier ones. The faster the honey crystallizes, the finer the texture will be. Honey that has crystallized will have a slightly lighter/paler color then when in liquid form. Darker honey tends to retain a brownish appearance. No matter what it looks like though, it can add great flavor to your dish.

What-Happens-During-Crystallization

Why Does Honey Crystallize?

Honey is a supersaturated mixture of two naturally occurring sugars, glucose and fructose. Honey doesn’t contain enough liquid to keep the sugar dissolved, so a natural chemical process causes some of the sugars to crystallize and separate from the mixture.

How-To-De-Crystallize-Pan

How Do I De-Crystallize Honey?

1) Heat a pan of water on low heat.*

2) Remove the pan and place your jar of honey inside. (Make sure the lid is off the jar before placing it in the water).

How-To-De-Crystallize-Before


3) Let the honey sit until it softens. Once it is in a liquid state again, put the lid back on and shake the jar.

4) Place the jar back in the warm water.
How-To-De-Crystallize-After

5) Let the water and jar cool together. Once they both reach room temperature, your honey is ready.

*It is important to cool and heat up your honey slowly. Heating and cooling too quickly can speed up re-crystallization. Avoid using the microwave to warm your honey, as high temperatures can remove the vitamins and nutrients that honey naturally has.

Storage

Storage Tips

The best way to store your honey is at room temperature in a glass jar. Cold temperatures will increase the rate of crystallization while warmer temperatures will damage the honey. Be sure to keep your honey away from the stove, heat-producing products and sunlight. If your house tends to run on the warm side, all you need to do is find the coolest spot in your pantry. Honey is known to be the food that does not spoil due to its high concentration of sugars.


How To Add Honey To Your Delivery: CSA members - head on over to our online Farm Stand Market to customize your upcoming delivery. The Market is open from noon on Thursday until 10 am, 2 days before your scheduled delivery day. After you confirm your produce items, click the orange button "Confirm and Continue To Other Farm Products" to add the products to your delivery.

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

March 21, 2018

Investing in the Future

Investing in the Future

From the Fields - Thaddeus
 
Mandarins are so good. I remember in high school, a teacher asked me what my favorite crop was, and without hesitation, I responded “Satsuma Mandarins.” The smell of the petite, white blossoms in the spring is without a doubt the best smell in the world. The fruit, easy to peel, easy to eat and healthy for our body, is also amazing. Couple all of that with the fact we harvest them during a time of year when our farm doesn’t have a ton of other fruit options, and you can begin to understand my love for this crop.

The reality is that Satsumas are best harvested in October and November, leaving the rest of the winter fruitless until our Blenheim Apricots arrive. Since high school, I have learned that Satsumas are not the only Mandarins that are amazing. There are others varieties that harvest at different times — a match made by the gods! Clementines harvest in December and January. Murcotts harvest in February and March, and Golden Nugget harvest in April and May.



Yes! It’s time to invest in the future and grow some more Mandarins for you! The trouble with this type of crop is that I will plant them this spring, but will not receive a single harvest for over three years. The traditional method farms use to cover this gap is to have an operating line of credit with a commercial bank. We have this relationship, but many years ago saw an amazing opportunity to further the connection between the members of the community that define our shared food system — our Green Loan Program. 

The idea behind our Green Loan Program is the mutually beneficial option for our customers to make secure investments and for our farm to borrow money to run a financially healthy business. Instead of us both turning to financial institutions, let’s strengthen the connection of our shared food system and complete these interactions directly with one another.

In simplified terms, qualified individuals can loan our farm money through our Green Loan Program. We then use the capital to bring farm projects to life. Investors can choose to receive interest paid in cash or in Farm Fresh To You credits. Licensed through the California Department of Corporations as a DPO (direct private offering), our Green Loan Program is a secure way to let your money grow while enabling our farm to grow too — win-win situation!



If you are interested in learning more about how your money can work for you, while also working for a local, sustainable food system, please reach out to us at greenloan@farmfreshtoyou.com for more information.

Enjoy your box this week and know we are working hard to provide you more than just great food!
Make sure to find us on Instagram @farmfreshtoyou and @farmerthaddeus

March 5, 2018

KNOW YOUR FARMER: GIRL MEETS DIRT

audra
Photo by Girl Meets Dirt.
Girl Meets Dirt fruit preserves encompass all that’s good in the food world. In addition to being an artisan product, made on a fairytale-like island, from ripe, seasonal fruit that is often picked from century-old orchards, these preserves have unique and unexpected flavors that set them apart from anything else we’ve tried – and we keep going back for more.

February 8, 2018

Tomato Season

Tomato Season

Farm News

Technically there are four seasons on the farm – spring is always the first when I think of the chronological order of the season. Everything is green, plans are new - spring always gives the most hope for the upcoming farming season. Spring gives way to summer with the heat.

January 9, 2018

Let's Talk About our Food System


Let's Talk About our Food System

Farm News

As summer turned to fall, our lettuce seed was tucked into soil in a plastic tray under a greenhouse. The tiny seeds germinated. For 35 days, they grew until their roots were confined by the limited soil in the transplant tray.