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There is something about traveling that affects me profoundly.  I come back inspired, excited a little bit jet-lagged, confident, posh (I’m not sure what posh even means but I definitely feel posh right about now). London, with all its unassuming grace, has sparked a note within me (a big reason why I am writing a post on this blog I have disregarded for the past 4 months).  But what is it about London, or traveling in general that affects us in such ways? Maybe it is the lack of structure within each day, even within each moment.  The inability to expect what the day will bring.  Maybe it is the lack of familiarity that forces us to find closeness and a sense of peace in other things, or people, such as the ones you are traveling with, or the people you meet on your trip.

And maybe that is what is so revolutionary.  When you realize that friendship, peace and familiarity are not places or faces, but rather emotions, of love, true joy, trust and respect.  My two friends and I, who I travelled through London with, have been friends since we were kids. Traveling with them and experiencing these emotions, rekindling our trust, respect and overall friendship has reshaped and strengthened our relationship.

The moments of turbulence on the plane, finding lost cats, meeting Scottish boys, spilling red wine and waking up to puppy kisses, all seem to be more than just moments, but connections.  Connections to places and feelings of joy or fear, which open you up to others in the most honest way.  

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But enough lovey-dovey talk, let me tell (and show) you the London I experienced this past week.

So first stop, of course, Big Ben.  How could we not.

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Westminister Palace.  This is where Andy and that Englishman fly remote control airplanes on Parks and Rec. Season 6 episode 1. Check it.

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And, no surprise, the first day we end up on Oxford Street, a huge shopping area.  We were later told that Oxford Street is a tourist trap…what can we say.

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We passes St. Paul’s Cathedral four times this day.  Only once was it intentional.

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Borough Market, which was mostly closed, sadly, but this gem was still open for business.

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Twinnings Tea Shop. Doesn’t get much more British than this.

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Covent Garden Market.

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The Coliseum (pronounced colosseum for us Americans).  English National Ballet (now lead by Tamara Rojo) performs there!

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Afternoon Tea at the National Portrait Gallery.  Super delicious and amazing view of London.  Pricy for sure, save up for this treat.

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Abbey Road.

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Camden Market. This is the best place ever! Unfortunately I went on the last day, when I had no money left, but don’t pull a me and save up for this place.  The best thrift shops I have ever experienced.

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Last but not least, Kensington Palace.  Stunning, I am sure it would be even more stunning in the spring when everything in blooming.  Also it is a great place to run or bike if you are into that!

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I don’t know why, but I always feel I have to end my posts by telling people to do something, so here goes. Go out and explore, get out of your comfort zone and find comfort, gain confidence and friends.  Cheers!

 

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Maine is Beautiful

Frenchess Hike

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So here I am at week 8.  Knee deep in the compost, up to my head with beans…when do I get my official title as Farmer Kim? Not quite yet.  Still just the apprentice…overworked, under appreciated apprentice.  Well I guess thats life. 

But enough pouting, lets get down to business.  So the farm has exploded since I last wrote (explosion in only the best way).  Cucumbers are growing so fast we can barely keep up harvesting them all before they over ripen.  I found a zucchini today that was about as big as bambam’s drumstick. We must have picked over 100 pounds of bush beans in the last few days and the tomatoes are showing the first signs of ripening.

It’s exciting.  Now I just have to tap into my inner Julia Child to create beautiful meals with all this wonderful food.  However between farming, cycling, running, taking the farm kids here and there and keeping in touch with everybody I have had little to no time to experiment with the veggies.  I actually made a recipe board for CSA customers to share their favorite recipes using the vegetables from the CSA, however even that is becoming quite the bummer and deteriorating, like our chinese cabbage crop.

So no recipes for now.  I’ll let ya know if I get inspired.

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But I have something even better.  So spending all this time with all these plants I am starting to get to know them pretty well.  Each plant is different variations on the color green, they grow in different sizes, horizontally vs. vertically, their leaves are shaped differently and they all have very distinct textures.  Some plants will leave you itchy (squash) and others will feel like little clouds gracing your skin (husk cherries).  But the most interesting (and in my opinion most beautiful) difference is their flowers.  So I have taken a bunch of pictures of the flowers of the plants followed by the picture of the fruit which grows out of it.  You can try to guess and test your farmer/gardening genius.

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MELON!!

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Peppers!

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Eggplant!

 

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Yellow Beans!

 

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Summer Squash!

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There is something really incredible about the way animals and plants work together in nature.  They are completely dependent on one another to survive.  Animals require the nutrients within the plants and plants require the digested nutrients dispelled by the animals.  If either end stopped producing, both would die.  And yet, when they work in conjunction it creates a circle of life…if I may quote The Lion King.

As a farmer you act as a link in that circle.  You connect the animals and plants in appropriate proportions and times to keep each end happy and producing.

This week I have been adorned composting champ since I am supposedly a very fast composter… So what composting is composed of (wordplay lol) is first shoveling the deep dark under layers of the manure pile from out side the barn into a wheel barrow.  The reason you want to the deep dark layer from the bottom of the pile is because this manure has had worms galore further breaking up the manure into a rich soil for the plants and also the under layers have been compressed by the top new layers forcing it to become dense.  This creates the perfect material for hungry plants.

The second step in composting requires you to wheel the wheelbarrow down to the fields and distribute it among the rows.  What you are doing here is taking heaping handfuls of the rich dark compost and spreading it around the base of the plant.  Wether it is squash, cucumbers, beets, pumpkins, they all need and love it.

And it is really amazing to see how the plants react to the compost.  I swear the day after I composted the beets they must have grown at least two inches.  Nature, ah…gets me every time.

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These are oat cover crops. Soon the pigs will be released into this section and begin loosening up this soil.

Another amazing example of the circle of life is evident in the pigs and their role in the circle of farm life.  Each year one of the fields on the farm gets a rest.  Cover plants (peas and oats here) are planted to protect the soil and restore the nitrogen in it.  This is also where the pigs are.  So the pigs have an interesting way of finding food.  Other than eating all of our leftovers, the pigs use their snouts to dig under the soil to reach yummy bugs and grubs.  In doing so the pigs are loosening up the soil creating a perfect consistency for the next season’s crop.  Also their (to be blunt) poop and pee is enriching the soil with a firm layer of compost and moisture.  This creates the ideal space for vegetables to grow in the coming year.

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Lastly, the sheep act as a natural mower (although the farm still needs to be mowed time to time).  The sheep are moved from one section of the yard to the next ripping the top off all the grass as they go.  It is really incredible to see, when the fence is moved how you can see the exact orb which it previously inhabited by the difference in grass height.  It basically looks like someone mowed inside that orb.

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And I guess all this information is obvious to most farmers, yet when I have been removed from the land, animals and plants, and the ways in which they are connected for my whole life, seeing them work in perfect harmony continually impresses me.  So here’s to nature, you’re amazing.

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Today I learned all the things you need to know to run a sustainable household in rural Maine at Maine Organic Farmer and Gardener’s Association annual homestead day.  I was introduced to everything from spinning your own wool, milking your own goats, making your own natural fence and (debatably most important) taking that goat milk to make your own ice cream. The other apprentice and I were able to attend the event and came back with a lot of new project ideas.  The best idea so far…we are going to milk our sheep and make some cheese :))))))

The two ewes (female sheep) gave birth to their two babies (Timothy and Hazel) in March so they are milk-able.  So far attempt number one has left us with some bruises, upset mommies and a measly drop of milk.  But we are determined first and foremost to keep the sheep and us happy, healthy and safe, and then to make some cheese. I’ll keep you updated.

Here are some pics from the day.

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Churning up some sheep milk ice cream

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So today was the first CSA pickup at the farm.  Ok just again CSA stands for community supported agriculture and is when the public pays a certain amount of money in order to receive fresh produce from the farm on a weekly/bi-weekly/monthly basis for a certain amount of time. Phew.  

Joining a CSA is not only a great way to support local agriculture, but is also an amazing opportunity to get a whole bunch or fresh produce.  For this first CSA we harvested leaf lettuce, arugala, spinach, radishes, potatoes, parsley and chives.  My head was churning with recipe ideas looking at the fresh dark greens and bright red radishes.  More to come with that!

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Best of all were the people I met coming by to pick up their fresh, organic vegetables.  Former farmers, foragers, fellow New Yorkites and conscious parents looking to lead their children towards health for their body and the planet.  It made me so happy to see a young girl, accompanying her father, begging to pick out the radishes she loved so much.  Now that girl is going to help me change the the food system one day.

Tom the turkey scared a few of the children and the sheep made a little girl smile as the adults weighed their greens.  It felt like very much what it is called, a community.  The very fact that the customers come to the farm, walk through the barn, see the gardens, the hoop houses and talk to us about the things we are planting and the work we are doing gathers the sense of community.  And this community to gathered around food.  Local, organic food that is.

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Completely opposite from the supermarket.  Parents gawk at the potential of taking their child to the grocery store, and starting up a conversation with the register worker is not widely accepted.  Grocery shopping is an errand, a task that must get done and most often an annoyance.  It is a part of the banality of life.

Yet while of course our CSA does not supply everything needed for a family, and therefore further grocery shopping is most likely a necessity, having this opportunity to enjoy getting food and enjoy the trip and enjoy talking to new people is amazing for the adults and kids alike.  And it also may help to encourage more people to get involved with their communities and their local farms.  If food is a joyful thing, something we can celebrate from the growing to the exchanging to the cooking and most importantly the eating, then people will begin celebrating it.  And food should be celebrated.  

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Here is a rough idea for a recipe from the ingredients from this weeks farm CSA.

Roasted Radish Salad with Baked Potato Chips

Roasted Radish Salad

Ingredients

  • Radishes, 3 or 4
  • Arugala, handful
  • Spinach, handful
  • Leaf lettuce, handful
  • Turnips, 2 sliced

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Cut radishes into quarters (or slices would work well too)
  3. Place on baking pan with a sprinkle of olive oil and a nice dash of salt and pepper
  4. Bake for 30 minutes or until your desired doneness*
  5. Prepare the greens while the radish is roasting by tearing the greens into smaller chunks
  6. Mix the sliced turnips in the salad
  7. Make a vinaigrette by whipping together some red wine vinegar, mustard, chopped garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. A good rule to go by when making vinaigrette is that there should be about twice as much olive oil as there is vinegar, and a little goes a long way so no need to drown the leafs.
  8. When the radishes are done mix them into the salad. The heat from the radishes will wilt the leaves slightly easing the bitterness of the arugala.

Notes

  • * The longer you roast them the less spicy, more sweet they will get.  The first time I roasted radishes I was so surprised how sweet they got! Delish.

Baked Potato Chips

See Link here for this recipe!

Enjoy everyone and listen to Kanye West’s Yeezus ok.

Piggies!

Here are Emily (the pink pig) and Frederick (the brown one). Frederick was just a runt when they got him, about two weeks ago, but now look at him! Also, little did I know pigs are incredibly agile and love running around. I could play with these guys all day.