Tuesday, October 30, 2012

In It to F'n Win It! Humorous Highlights of an Earthly Delights Farm Internship

Last Interns Standing!  Family Photo - Front Row: Megan, Myself, Kristy, Mae + Anton.  Back Row: Casey O' "Crew Chief" Leary

One of the last mornings at Cymry's Plot. Enchanting!
It's a Monday morning and I'm not in dirty boots, complaining about frozen upper body lady parts nor counting down the minutes until it is lunch time, allowing me to shove my face with some mixture of greens, beans, veggies, rice, more veggies, crazy new spices and some yummy homemade dressing that ties it all together.  The only compost I'm workin' with today is the 100 billionth kale stem I've stripped and the egg shell that the breakfast of the last day of my cleanse is allowing me to indulge in.  They top off a rather full plastic sack of compost in my kitchen.  As Casey would say, it's the best use of that plastic sack's life.  Anton would make some "that's what she said" joke because of Casey's use of the word "sack."
The last day of my farm internship at Earthly Delights Farm was this past Thursday and as separation anxiety would want it, I'll continue to meet up with Casey + whoever else of the Season 8 farm crew to work on cleaning, threshing, winnowing + packaging seed.  I had a pretty big accomplishment this season with the farm.  I was the first person to complete an entire season from day 1 to the last day on the farm, every work party - heck, even the parties thrown by one of the crew having nothing to do on the farm, + every conference + other meet ups in between this March to just about November timeline.  Based off of Casey + I's mutual love for a Johnny Paycheck song + my days of extreme love/hate relationship (changing by the hour or task at hand)  I proposed that the name of the award be the "Take this Job and Shove It Award of Attendance Excellence."
I never thought I'd be a Potato Farmer...Oh, Idaho!
We've all achieved, experienced + learned great things, found our own niche + made strong bonds to each other throughout our experience.  Emily - refreshed the meaning of being "vegan," introducing me to a plant-based, whole foods way of eating, eliminating the strict rules and limitations + allowing the non-depriving, smart (be choosy!) consumption of local, organic seafood + meats. Mae gave me a place to stay while I searched for a new North End dwelling.  Austin contributed his manly man muscles + work ethic to the farm for a short term but provided a place to stay up in Washington while I was in the area for the Mother Earth News Faire.  He has been welcomed back to Boise with much love + hospitality + always will be.  Anton has been my little farmer brother, testing my patience most of the time - but never losing my friendship + support.  Many jokes + good times will be remembered with him.  Megan has been my light + heart of the group.  Always there through the tough times + the exciting fun moments no matter what.  She introduced me to the Spring + Fall Cleanse that I'm celebrating the end of by searching healthy cupcake recipes for.  She is one of the most talented ladies I know, she will do a lot of good for this world!  Kristy - my S.O.S. lady has been a breath of fresh air!  She couldn't have came in to reclaim her spot on the farm (for a second season) + I don't think it could have been anybody else that could have filled those shoes.  Her energy is beyond positive, her patience is remarkable + her passion for life is just beautiful.  She is the kind of gal that gives you answers without asking the questions.  She helps you see clearly.  She is just lovely.  Casey - god bless her for all that we've put her through! Ha!  She is a Certified Badass.  Ask anyone - no, really - ask away!  She is one amazing gift basket of endless knowledge, quirky humor, drive to get a job done ...so that she can have a beer + so much more.  I have learned way too much (good thing) through Casey's teachings and guidance.  My only upset?  That there isn't some sort of Level 2 Internship for repeat farm interns! Hint, hint Casey!
July 3rd | Farm Tour at Janie Burn's place! Great woman, fun day!
As I look back on that "Mell of a Hess" of an internship, I can't help but want to laugh, cry, smile + swear.  It was an experience that I will have stories from for the rest of my life + for anyone who wants to know what goes down on a farm! Here's a few things you should know, feel-good stories + triumphs that went down over the magical season at Earthly Delights Farm:

Warning:  May contain Botanical Sexual Content.  Male + Female Squash Parts! 

1. Sex Ed
Birds + Bees.
Striptease in Progress!
Is it hot in here? No, it's just Earthly Delights Farm!  I'm not going to talk about being down on your hands + knees, crawling across the beds, shirtless compost shoveling or anything like that.  I have never in my whole life been surrounded with such sexual humor, open sexual conversation + sexual tension before - okay, not entirely true, however, if a farm were to have a sex drive...ours certainly did.  We were there to hook you up with Weed Dating (see no. 8), our farm-ified version of speed dating.  We had a week of Pollination Education (plant sex ed, don't let those fancy words dull what it's really about!).  Every other word that came out of my mouth ended up being another reason for someone (again, usually Anton) to call out "that's what she said."  We had some pretty memorable-sized + shaped vegetables...one I can recall being a disturbingly phallic squash we found while clearing out our plot on Taft for the last time.  Other random mentions would be a birthday striptease I had the honor of receiving from a surprise guest "Joel Salatin."  Also two words: intern hookups.  It happened!  Who says being a farmer isn't sexy?  I'm fully convinced farming is a segue to sex, baby. Now, who wants to go to a Shovels + Hoes party?
Austin, creating female farmers all over the world.

2.Swearing + Other Inappropriate Language/Conversation
Maybe it was just that we were a very encouraging crop of interns. With the mention of our overly used "that's what she said" and our appreciation for shapely squashes I'm sure you wouldn't be surprised to know that farmers also have quite the mouths on them.  I tried to tone it down with "Gosh dang's" + "Son of a pup's" - but by the end of the first month (if even that far) my profanity had risen to a comfortable level.  Let's just say, we could battle it out with truckers (I've heard they're known for their potty mouths).  Also, we'd win that battle 9 times out of 10.  When the leader of the pack is no saint to this stuff + recommends you tone down your language + jokes, you know you've succeeded. $@*% yeah!

Always a good idea on the farm!

3.Alcohol Lessons
Sip it ... Riiiiight! 
I was so apprehensive about asking for my first beer on the farm.  Casey had always mentioned that in the summer, if someone quits early the rule is that they have to go get beers for everyone + knowing this, I still waited until some ungodly amount of minutes into our first farm party to get permission to have a beer.  Little did I know that I'd be one of four gals to shut that first party down.  Having been at the farm since 12, I wasn't exactly in it to win it - but when one of our CSA members kept opening beers for me, Mae busting out her variety pack of brews + inappropriate conversation intensifying, you best believe I ponied up + left only when all beer was done + I was off on my merry way home!
Happily Buzzed
First Farm Party
Cheers to the last day of harvest!
There was one downfall which over our last lunch I named my "worst day on the farm."  This day was a warm Thursday morning.  It was also the day after Casey's birthday party aka the hangover.  It was a crippling day in which planting was done while laying on my side moaning about why I drank so many mason jars o' wine (2 is mucho after a few warm up beers, trust me).
An honorable mention goes to Anton for showing up still drunk for the day in which he was supposed to organize + lead the volunteers that had came to work for "Intern Appreciation Day" - one being a possible future intern there to check it out.  We were supposed to have the day off, but circumstances lead to 3 of us showing up to work anyways.  Anton showed up late announcing that he was wearing the same clothes as the night before, that his "bros" were in town + wanted to go out, he had slept for not nearly enough hours + that he was still drunk.  Couldn't have executed that one better.  Love you, Anton!
As there is always the "upper" moments in drinking, the list for our season includes (but is certainly not limited to):
a. Winning a keg for my perfect attendance during the farm season.
b. Bogus Brewing - Boise's first CSB (Community-Supported Brewing) teaming up with us for Weed Dating.  CSA + CSB found love!
c. Mae's Lovage Vodka
d. Celebrating our first day of harvest with a homemade wine brought by Casey
e. Celebrating our last day of harvest with bloody mary's made with tomatoes from the farm + organic, local American Harvest vodka provided by Megan (what a saint!)

Megan's Squash Gazpacho
4. Gourmet or Bust
Megan's Sweet Cooking Skills - Pizza!
Birthday Beer + Cake.  Essentials.
Lunch, snacks, beverages + desserts too! We always went big or went home.  Our lunches were nothing short of exquisite.  We had just about every flavor, cultural dish, spice, vegetable, grain + gluten free, vegan, local, organic, non-gmo lunch + liquid possible.  We treated ourselves everyday!  I don't think there was a lunch we didn't like, but after 4 hours of good, hard farm labor we were salivating just thinking about lunch.  That's when we kicked it up a notch + started to bring appetizing snacks to be enjoyed when feeling next to famished. Muffins - both savory and sweet were our weapon of choice when we had the ol' 11am, sometimes earlier, stomach grumble + near death from starvation experience.  Seems hard to believe since we were there since 8 am right?  Wrong.
Top lunches would be hard to countdown, but my foodie awards (in no particular order) would be:
Kristy wins an award for her Almond Butter Gravy - mixed with mashed potatoes - oh my freakin' good gosh.
Mae wins an award for the best use of yellow squash with her Gorgonzola Squash Muffins which were paired with one of the best Squash Soups I've ever had.  Truly culinary genius that meal was!
Rainy day lunch in the garage. 
Megan was difficult in the way that she likes sweets mixed with savory + that is just something my palate can't hang with.  Though anyone would argue with me that she should win an award for her sweet potato hummus alone, I would have to give her an award for her creativity with exquisite (+ I mean it!) lunches like Sweet Potato "Hot Pockets," Pizza with radishes, Sweet Potato Hummus (as sauce) + a balsamic reduction on top.  This talented lady also made Squash Gazpacho + again hats off to the best liquid meal on the farm - Bloody Marys!
Casey's Goat Cheese
Anton wins an award for all of his "Bomb" farm creations. If he could source it from the farm, he could.  I'm pretty sure it was because it took the least amount of effort, but nonetheless it was always tasty.  Even the "holy, shit I'm on lunch" trip to Albertson's Organic section 5 minutes before meeting at the farm wasn't half bad!  Way to go!
Casey wins an award for her Goat Cheese.  Not only was this the first cheese + dairy experience I had after being vegan for 1 year and then some, making it special, but it was one of my favorite things Casey had brought to the table.  So fresh, so clean tasting.  Not overly goat-y, but just perfect.
Honorable mentions go to Emily for her gluten free noodles with peanuts + greens - simple yet so satisfying.  Austin wins an award just for bringing lunch as long as he did.  Thank you, Austin!
Post Survival Beers for all after a crazy rainy day is a MUST! Thanks, Jane for the gift of Mirror Pond!
5. Weathering the Storms
Flood Irrigation @ Taft
When it rains, it pours.  Well, we endured through a lot more than showers from a gray sky.  One day in particular (my favorite day of all, ironically) we persevered through on and off heavy rain, making us take off, put on, take off + put back on our many layers needed that spring afternoon.   I was working on a rather lengthy + unruly bed of quack grass at one of our biggest plots, so it was already challenging without the weather gods toying with us all day.  Finally the Florida afternoon-comparable rain ceased, the sun came out to play for the end of the work session just in time for a good round of brewskies + a family photo op.  The morale was high that day, making it one of my fondest memories.
Taking you from the skies back down to the earth, we fought off a whole other storm. Hurricane  Squash Bugs.  Those little dudes are INVASIVE!  They show up on the underside of young squash plants as little copper caviar-looking eggs.  You can blink twice + they turn into these creepy little spider-like creatures that move at the speed of lightning.  They grow up to be oval-shaped gray critters who mate backside to backside...yeah, I know, awkward.  They are destructive devils + if not terminated immediately - best if done when in the immobile egg form - they will end your chances at having endless amounts of squash.  We created a contest in which whoever killed the most squash bugs (which was done with two tools - your thumb a your pointer finger) won a prize.  I won.  I told you, I'm in it to win it!  We survived the squash bugs, we survived it all.  Victory was ours!
I love love notes from lovely lovers!

6. Tight-knit Crew
We got you, Casey!!
We went through a lot this season - good and bad.  There were tears, losses, laughs, silence + lots of love to help get through it all.  Our losses were all over the place throughout the season.  One of those losses being a spinach crop we were saving for seed which was pulled out during our Weed Dating event (you can't get to know someone, flirt + focus on WEEDS at the same time, buddy? come on, now!).  Thank you pea weevils - an honorable mention - for eating your way to the core of our saved pea seed so that it is no longer good to plant for next year!  Bravo, you sneaky snakes!
We had a few drop-outs, one was probably for the best and right off of the bat, another was Austin, which only made us work harder + really brought us together + the last one was Emily.  We lost Emily to a career working to better the food choices given in schools in Idaho - an honorable loss if you ask me!  I still love you, Em + respect your decision!
We've been there for each other as we've been homeless, through breakups, hook-ups, other life issues, they always happen.
Casey + Norm
The one thing that seriously glued us together, in my opinion, was the loss of Norm, our beloved farm dog.  It was a tough time for us + a devastating time for Casey, whom the dog belonged to.  We pulled through, ran the farm show for a week (including that Intern Appreciation day - our "day off"), sat at the CSA pick-up + anything else we could do to allow Casey the time she needed to be with Norm as he was spending his final days.  R.I.P. Norm, my love!
Side note - I've poured many o' sips of drinks out for my homey, Norm.

Spring/Summer/Fall 2012 Collection

7.Farm Fashion
"EWE MADE IT!" Shirt
Model:  Casey O'Leary
I'm sure you're thinking....what the...but yes, there is a place for fashion on a farm.  It's not just plumber's cracks + Chacos, although those are included.  For our first work party we had an 80's workout theme in which there were unitards present, bright neon leggings + other inappropriate outfits.  We classed it up a bit with our 1950's-stylin' spoof commercial (somewhere in the video universe) of the use of GMOs.  I played the housewife feeding her kids a little sprinkle here + there of GMO on their freshly-sprayed salad, no harm done right? At least I looked good doin' it!
My video husband, well "he" was in a sharp hazmat suit.
Aside from the funny farm fashion, we rocked some trendy stuff.  Thanks to Kristy, I took packed the jeans away + embraced the skirt + leggings look.
GMO Video Shoot / 1950's Housewife!
Honorable mentions to the farm favorite accessories:  Unshaven leg + armpit hair, Anton's on, off + on again beard, perma-dirty hands + manure-stains.
Only the beginning of a great Earthly Delights party!
8. You're Invited!
Heirloom Tomatoes!
We know how to throw one hell of an event. I've mentioned our work parties, but we know how to tastefully celebrate diversity (it's not an old, old wooden ship).Our 1st Annual Tomato Tasting event was a smashing good time!  We set out to have 100 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes + we made the goal + then some with over 100 of Treasure Valley's finest 'maters!  The Tomato Tasting also featured a salsa contest, cooking + seed saving demos + prizes for all!
From a newspaper in Maine!
Earthly Delights...you may have heard of us on oh, the national news somewhere, anywhere, on NPR's Morning Edition or that thing they call the Huffington Post in the Green section.  Oh, was it Jay Leno?  We made mega news with our 2nd Annual Weed Dating, it was very, very cool!  I was the only single lady on the farm at the time + I rep'd it for the Farm Crew. Anton - the lone single dude intern + I did not find love on the farm that night, but we had a good time as usual.
Though we didn't get stalked by the paparazzi afterwards, our Harvest Fest was by far the best shindig of the season.  With my donated keg (my perfect attendance trophy), a special musical guest, Brandon Follett, a cover of "Take This Job + Shove It," games for the kiddos, apple cider press - which my grandma was right, it is most excellent spiked with beer, screenprinting + an the party kept going for some of us at the 44 Club with a little bit of karaoke.  By a little bit, I mean I shut it down with Fiona Apple.  Last call for alcohol!


Mama + Drunken Woman Frizzy -Headed Lettuce Babies!
9. S.O.S.!
Arugula Seed!
Saving Tomato Seed
Save our seed!  For the first time, each intern took on a specific crop + family to look after throughout the season.  I chose Drunken Woman Frizzy-Headed Lettuce (in which I'll hang my farmer jersey with forever) in the Asteraceae (Compositae) Family.  The Asteraceae family is mostly composed of lettuces (Lactuca sativa) but also includes sunflowers, cosmos, calendula + if you want to give your taste buds a wild trip bite into our most unique member, spilanthes aka toothache plant!  We each saved an impressive amount of seed and it was so much fun to watch our crops grow! Casey is a self-proclaimed "SEED FREAK" (don't even try to take that title away from her) + she is now teaming up with the lovely Carrie Jones of Draggin' Wings Farm to open up Common Wealth Seed Library.  It is a seed sanctuary, free from GMO seed.  Nothin' but pure, organic, native seed in which you can check out, + return your later-collected seed back to the library.  Wonderful, eh?!
Saving Seed from Cosmos

Thank you Cymry (+ Daniel) for letting us farm your land!  

10. Friends + Thank You's
Casey O' "Love of my Life" Leary
We featured different interns, friends of the farm + CSA members in our weekly newsletter (click here to sign up, scroll down + fill 'er out!) + the extra attention is well-deserved!  A huge thank you goes out to the land owners of the plots in which we farmed, but also drank a lot of booze, used too much profanity + other productive things!  In all seriousness, Jane, Cymry + Daniel - we couldn't have done it without you, thank you so much!  To all of the friends (not including the girls who dressed up in their mall outfits to help Anton, realized they were supposed to be farming + left after 5 minutes of saying how cool it was what we were doing) + family who thought it would be a good idea to get a crash course in human-powered, organic farming - I thank you for lending a hand to our precious crops.  I thank all of my fellow interns + last but not least Casey O'Leary for being THE BEST BOSS LADY IN THE WORLD!!
That's a wrap!

aka "The Compost Mama"

Sunday, June 17, 2012

M A K E It Happen!

I cook, farm, create, write, organize and now I MAKE!  As the lady behind Begin Vegan and an Intern with Earthly Delights Farm, I have been appointed as Food + Farm Director for Boise Mini Maker Faire 2013. This is the first Maker Faire here in Boise, Idaho and I couldn't be more excited to be a part of this.

Boise Mini Maker Faire Directors signing out first banner brought
 from the San Fran Maker Faire!  Thanks, Adrian!
One of the reasons I relocated back to Boise, Idaho is because I knew I belonged here.  I came back to grow with my city.  I feel that we - this city, my fellow citizens and I, are on this fantastic journey to making our mark on the map for much more than just being the state capital.

Boise is full of innovative, talented and original artists of all mediums.  We are creators and in May 2013 we will have a platform to show and tell.

I don't mean to brag (oh, but I do!), however, ... Boise has placed:
and my favorite finding

With the music scene blowing up, Treefort Music Fest was the cherry on top that tied together all of the emerging artists and the very cool locally-driven Radio Boise (Antler Crafts, anyone?)   I'm proud to bring another smashing event in Boise, Idaho to provide the citizens the chance to present their skills and works - known and unknown, and share the knowledge and the how-to's of their projects.  The spirit of Maker Faire is to get to know those who are making and see how they make and why they make.  Described as an "adult science fair" in the Boise Weekly article written by the lovely Tara Morgan - it's all about the launch, curiosity, sharing, networking and education - minus any talks of religion and politics and definitely no sales pitch.   It's very no-stings-attached, all fun-sided learning for the made-curious!

Adrian, Jen, myself, Heather and Carol - part of your Boise Maker Faire team.
Picture by Barton - also part of the team!
I've been an eager DIY-er since I was little.  As a kiddo, I used to cross stitch, illustrate, write short stories, design super high tech furniture, jump into the kitchen as much as I could and on and on...!  I'm still nothing short of fascinated with what people can make.  From dresses to homes (earthships) people are making amazing things out there.

As the first ever Food + Farm Director, I'm following a "Farm to Table" theme where we can all learn the DIY aspect of food.

My signed flag on the official Boise Maker Fair banner! 
As the first ever Food + Farm 

At the 2013 Boise Mini Maker Faire we'll also be exploring what food is, what's in your food, who makes your food.  You'll be able to interact with the maker and learn how it's done and why.

Boise's Urban Agriculture movement is proving beneficial for the health and wellness of our communities, our environment and our local economy.  At this event you can learn sustainable food growing practices and then teach others.  I can't wait to see what the Boise community brings to the table!

If you are a maker of any sort - trust me, there will be a category for you and your hobby - whether it be a little garage hobby or something grand and perfected please sign up to be a part of the start of something really unique and wonderful.


Come one, come all + click here to become a maker!



Monday, June 11, 2012

Eat Sustainably | Eat Local

Olympia Co-op | Westside  

Zissou-in' | Shelton, Washington

Recently this article came out with studies trying to prove that organic consumers are "snobs"and I've been thinking a lot about the titles we give ourselves and how they seem to define and restrict us.  I've had many discussions on "foodie elitists" from all types of diets and have been thinking about the different reactions to people choosing to no longer be vegan .  I must say, I have always been for Boise consumers buying local as much as one can, but I didn't have that "Aha!" moment until I did some deep thinking while up for the Mother Earth News Fair.

Eating local, seasonally grown food is the most sustainable way of food consumption and demands for the most sustainable practices for growing/producing food.

When I say "eating local food" I am referring to the act of eating in season, organic (for ourselves and the environment), locally-produced food.  I add in organic because this is very important, although it is often left out of the definition.  I think eating organic goes hand in hand with eating local because it helps sustain our land, encourages you to get to know your farmer and build trust within the community.

This doesn't mean my vegan beliefs are gone with the wind.  I still support the idea that if everyone eats a mostly vegan diet that they will have optimum health.

"Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly Plants." - Michael Pollan

Herbs from our local organic Purple Sage Farms! 
On the water in Shelton, WA
 I believe that the smaller and closer the farm, the better.  Ideally, growing your own food is best and although most of us run out of room and time to fully grow everything - small steps towards being more sustainable are better than nothing! As Joel Salatin explained at Mother Earth News Fair - you don't need money, you don't need this or that - you just need to start participating!

Back in Oly!
The first weekend of June, I was in Washington for Mother Earth News Fair.  We were staying in Shelton, Washington on a gorgeous, lush 5-acre plot of forest that hasn't been touched in about 25 years.  It was no more than a 5 minute hike down to the water where you could fetch your own oysters from the bay waters.  There were even salty sea greens available which I added to my polenta breakfast one morning.  One evening, deciding on dinner, we drove all over searching for the Olympia Co-Op so that I could prepare a separate vegan dinner for myself while my friends had fresh shellfish from the bay!

I ended up buying packaged gluten free noodles and organic frozen peas and grapeseed veganaise to go along with some veggies we brought up from our farm for a pasta salad.

Since leaving Washington, I have wondered why I hadn't just enjoyed what was available right then and there.  An oyster dinner would have been the most fresh, most nutritious option at that time.  That's when it started to make sense to eat fresh, local, food - whatever it is, wherever you are.

I had a very similar situation when I started finding out about juicing and the power of raw foods.  I believe that yes, raw foods are best for you - as cooking often depletes the nutrients.  However, I came to the conclusion that here in Boise, Idaho - I want hot foods, especially in the winter.  I shouldn't be eating all raw produce from California through the months when I only have potatoes and squash available right here in Boise. 

Go with what nature has to offer, when it offers it.

Locally-made goat cheese crumbles
 We're all guilty of running to the nearest grocery store to grab a _______ (fill in the blank) - an avocado in February, tomatoes in November and bananas throughout the year.  These things, when out of season, are trucked up from the places far, far away from us where it is fresh and grows locally.  Over the days on the truck and the next few on store shelves and even more in your fridge - your food has lost a lot of the nutrients it had from the moment it was harvested.  The quality is compromised tremendously over the journey your imported, out-of-state food must go through.  One thing to keep in mind:  Is it really worth it to eat low quality food with dramatically less nutrients?  The whole point of eating, after all, is to nourish our bodies.

Educate yourself at Farmer's Markets - see what is available!  It teaches you to eat seasonally - as you should! No matter what your diet is you can see what is fresh and within a low traveling distance to get to you.  This includes meat that has been raised nearby, vegetables that are grown in a community garden and dairy that when you purchase the product, you are also supporting a neighbor organic farmer.

You can print off your own Idaho Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables calendar here!

At Mother Earth News Faire with my good friend Leslie
of GMO-Free Idaho
I always advise people to listen to your bodies and do what's right for themselves.  Forget the titles that are thrown around for status purposes.  I've learned a lot being a vegan and it has led me to consume a smarter, local and organic, plant-based, whole foods diet.

We are here on earth for our own journey and for our journey as a whole.  May this stimulate thought and inspire education!


BONUS! This article won The Ecthicist Contest put on by the New York Times and judged by some big names including Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan.
Harvesting Peas at Earthly Delights Farm!