We’ll probably be harvesting our tobacco this week. This will be the fourth consecutive year we’ve grown the plants and harvested the leaves for curing. Found this article about one of Tampa’s last cigar factory, which still is heavily reliant on hand labor.
Inside El Reloj, cigar workers, most of them women, sit behind 1930s-era machines and lay a long tobacco leaf on a metal plate, cutting it before it slides off to be rolled. In another room, women push pedals on machines from the 1910s that strip the stem from the leaf (the women are indelicately called strippers). The process has not changed since the 1930s when Mr. Newman’s grandfather bought his first set of machines; two decades later he moved his cigar factory to Ybor City from Cleveland.
Posted on Sunday, July 27th 2014
Top of the heat wave to you all,
The many weeks of temperate, misty mornings followed by pleasant breezy afternoons have run out like good luck at Chumash, and our plants have been exhibiting the classic midday heat droop in these high temperatures. Despite starting the work day at 6:30am, within half an hour you find that everything on your body except for your fingernails is sweating profusely. The bed you’re weeding gets longer by the minute and seems to stretch out for miles causing you to stop checking how much further you have left out of fear. Once you finish you stand up slowly, scream out, run for the sprinkler and stick your face in it. Can that be right? Is it only 9am?
I can’t complain. So far this summer has been delightfully consistent which our plants and maturing seeds have probably enjoyed. In the last week, the farm has harvested seed from almost two hundred row feet of rainbow calendula, a second round of true comfrey, white sage and Czech bush tomatoes. We’ve also been doing continued harvests of Rubber Dandelion seed and “Bright Lights” Cosmo seed, a new variety for the farm that I began growing and saving this summer. When used as a natural dye, it yields a lovely golden color.
The incredible diversity of plants that we’re nurturing on this land has been brought to the forefront in these last couple weeks as we’ve been filing for the farm’s Certified Producer’s Certificate, which in its completed state consists of nine pages of items. Our agricultural inspector admitted to being overwhelmed by it. The funny thing is, I can already think of more plants we have growing here that we forgot to list. As a result, our farmer’s market stand over these past two weeks has been a reflection of this eclectic environment - a fragrant and colorful array of items in small amounts.
As some of you may already know, for the last several months Quin has been working on a Kickstarter campaign for the farm’s sister company, All Good Things Organic Seeds and plans to launch it during the first week of August. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Kickstarter, it is a crowd funding platform whose mission is to bring creative projects to life, or in this case financially stabilize and expand small start-up businesses. The campaign will run for 30 days, and donors will receive seed credit in the online catalog at 15% above their contribution, among other things. See his full project description here. Some of the funds raised during this campaign will trickle down to nourish the farm bank account as well, as the seed company will be more capable of funding increased seed production efforts taking place on the land.
Over the next couple weeks prior to launch, we will be rallying supporters who are willing to spread the word about the campaign when it launches via social networking sites in order to maximize exposure. If you are interested in making a sizable contribution to the campaign, please contact Quin.
That’s all for now, thanks for listening. I hope everyone is eating lots of chilled Caprese salads by day and frolicking merrily by night.
Posted on Friday, July 25th 2014
Have a look at the project description for All Good Things’ upcoming Kickstarter Campaign:
We are a three person certified organic seed company located in Ojai, California. We aim to demystify the process of farming and gardening by providing quality, certified organic, non-GMO seed varieties and straightforward growing information directly to our customers. A vast portion of our seed catalog is sourced directly from our acre and a half farm.
Our mission is twofold: 1) propagating plant biodiversity and 2) improving existing open-pollinated vegetable varieties, including heirlooms. We are working farmers that grow vegetable, flower, and herb varieties that will maximize our growing potential each season, and we know that quality varieties begin with quality seed.
Certified organic seeds are more than a label, they are also a process. Our desire to ensure quality seed varieties that produce food grown without pesticides, chemical fertilizer inputs or genetic modification has kept us in touch with each stage of what it takes to bring quality seeds to market. We are involved in the growing, harvesting, seed cleaning, storage, design, packaging and shipping of our seeds.
The small scale nature of this project brings a specific set of challenges, and we are reaching out through Kickstarter for support to help realize our company’s potential. Our work benefits all farmers and gardeners who choose to grow organically, embrace health, and enhance their own self-sufficiency.We’ve put together a small film in support of the project that can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/PlantGoodSeed
By investing in us we will be investing in you. Contributions to our Kickstarter campaign will cover our home farm’s seed production costs, pay for our printing and envelope runs, and allow us to continuing sourcing new varieties from other certified organic seed growers, thereby supporting the organic seed movement generally. In turn, you will receive seed credit in our online catalog at 15% above your contribution. Our catalog presently features over 150 – and growing – certified organic, non-GMO vegetable, flower and herb varieties, including special collections, rare, heirloom, and farm original varieties; even a retail seed rack. Seed credit can be used in tandem with any future variety releases, discounts, specials, or coupons we offer and also covers shipping costs. We can also break up your balances into smaller denominations, which can then be distributed as gifts.
We will also be offering other compelling rewards that are connected to the five year history of our farm. These will be announced when the project is officially launched.
The Kickstarter campaign will launch during the first week of August and will run for 30 days. If you are interested in helping us prior to launch, please contact us at allgoodthings ( at ) plantgoodseed dot com. We are looking for a group of people who would be willing to share our campaign via social media on its launch day, and ideally get their friends to as well. Additionally, we are looking for folks could commit to financially backing the project.
Thanks for your time and consideration!
-Quin Shakra, co-founder
Posted on Friday, July 25th 2014
Reblogged from All Good Things Organic Seeds
Fresh Raw Salsa
This time of year tomatoes are aplenty, so this simple and quick recipe comes in quite handy. Fresh, homemade salsa tastes worlds better than any store-bought varieties. Fortunately for us, we have all of the ingredients on hand this season. This is a quick salsa recipe for when you just want some beautiful, fresh, raw food without much fuss.
- 4 cups organic tomatoes, chopped small
- 2-4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- 1 tablespoon sea salt, or to taste
- Juice of one lime or lemon
- 1 cup minced fresh cilantro
- 1 cup minced onion
- 1-2 jalapeños or other chili pepper, minced
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and chill until ready to serve. If you have a hand mixer or blender you don’t have to mince the ingredients just throw them in as large chunks and let the blender do the chopping for you.
Posted on Friday, July 25th 2014
we will have fresh certified organic Piri Piri or African Bird’s Eye Cayenne Peppers at the Ojai Farmer’s Market this Sunday from 9 am to 1 pm. Like most things we are bringing to market, these peppers are available in extremely short runs. Their potent spice and robust flavor makes a little go a long way. (at Ojai Certified Farmers Market)
Posted on Saturday, July 19th 2014
Tzatziki with Cucumber and Dill
This flavorful and cooling yogurt based sauce is a regular fixture in my house when cucumbers are in season during the summer. Served cold, it works great as a dip for fresh vegetables such as carrots, peppers and tomatoes, alongside grilled meats, or inside pita bread with falafel or chicken.
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- ½ cup sour cream (optional)
- 1 large green cucumber or 2-3 miniature white cucumbers skinned, seeded and grated
- 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
- A couple sprigs of fresh dill, chopped
- Salt to taste
- Cheesecloth or cloth napkin
- Mortar and pestle (optional)
- Place your grated cucumber into the cheesecloth and squeeze out as much fluid as possible over a sink. Place remaining cucumber in a small mixing bowl.
- Place garlic in mortar and pestle, sprinkle with salt, and mash into garlic until a sort of garlic-salt paste is created. Add to cucumber.
- Add remaining ingredients - yogurt, sour cream and dill into the bowl and stir to combine.
- Taste for salt and place in refrigerator to chill before serving. Makes about 2 cups.
Posted on Thursday, July 17th 2014
Thoughtful article about image vs reality in farming that we experience firsthand.
Posted on Thursday, July 17th 2014
Nearly a month has elapsed since the blessed summer solstice and the universe is busy hurling fastballs of opportunity our way. At long last, Mano Farm and All Good Things Organic Seeds have been invited to participate in the Ojai Farmer’s Market starting this Sunday, so we have been hurriedly expediting our updated certified producer’s certificate and taking the necessary steps to prepare ourselves for this exciting and unexpected development. This is the first time that either Quin or I have held a booth at a farmer’s market so it goes without saying that this is a huge step for our farming endeavor. As for me, I am both honored and terrified.
Throughout much of my short farming career, my ability and preference to work independently has been my best friend and my worst enemy. I’ve always found working alone on the farm to be the most delightful and thrilling profession there is. On the other hand, my singular strength is limited and while it does improve with experience, I could always benefit from the help of more like-minded participants. Despite the fact that I spend most of my life growing things for a living and adjusting to changing circumstances in the natural world, I am unnerved by the idea of changing or growing my business, not to mention asking for help. Help costs the business owner time and money up front, and it’s been easy for me to overlook the long term benefits of creating the infrastructure needed to accept and incorporate help – until now. Opportunities for growth are presenting themselves and it’s time to react.
That being said, I have been fortunate with my supply of workers thus far. Every Friday, I’m joined by Michelle Dohrn and her daughter Phoebe who make harvest cleaning and preparation a breeze while delighting me with stories of the many different ways they’ve eaten our vegetables. And from just down the road, Jan Waterlow has been a regular participant on the farm for probably over two years now and provides consistent support and great company that I now find hard to get along without. We also just welcomed a lovely new intern from Canada named Allie who will be working with us for the duration of July and her presence has been hugely beneficial and refreshing. In the short time that she’s been with us, she’s tamed the thorniest raspberries, wrangled the most massive zucchinis and wielded hook and hoe ripping unsuspecting weeds from the soil with a smile on her face and Devendra Banhart in her ear buds.
And lastly, the help and encouragement that I receive daily from Quin is immeasurable. His love for Mano Farm has been unyielding since the beginning and working alongside him has shown me that there is definite strength in numbers when multiple minds are focused on achieving the same ultimate goal.
For this weekend, your homework is to eat tomatoes, zucchini, beans and onions and be merry. If you’re in the Ojai area, consider coming on out to the farmer’s market this Sunday where we’ll be selling our wares and collecting high fives in Steve’s old slot. We’d love your support.
Posted on Friday, July 11th 2014
Raw Summer Squash Pasta
Want to really taste the season? Try this raw pasta dish inspired by the flavors of summer. It tastes delicious cold or warm and is super easy to make, about 10 minutes of prep and long lasting nutritional value for your body.
- 1 zucchini squash, shaved thinly lengthwise with a vegetable peel
- 1 yellow summer squash, shaved thinly lengthwise with a vegetable peeler
- Sea salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup cherry, grape or any variety of tomatoes, halved
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoon finely chopped basil
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- Peel your squash. If you prefer them warm, soak the shavings in warm water while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
- In a large bowl, gently toss together all ingredients. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately.
Brought to you by Mano Farm’s official food blogger, Michelle Dohrn. Contact Michelle at email@example.com.
Posted on Friday, July 11th 2014
Mano Farm is hiring one employee for 10 hours a week. Shifts include Saturday harvests from 6pm-8pm and Sundays from 7am-3pm working our stand at the Ojai Farmer’s Market. We will only be considering applicants able to work both shifts, and the first shift is this coming Saturday. Email your resumes or questions to manofarmers @ gmail.com. Thanks!
Posted on Monday, July 7th 2014
Posted on Thursday, July 3rd 2014
Simple Summer Shish Kabobs
These colorful kebabs are a summer barbecue favorite and can be enjoyed alone or alongside any grilled meat. Showcase the farm fresh loot from your CSA!
- 2 crookneck squash
- 2 zucchini
- 1lb fresh tomatoes
- 1 onion
- 5-10 wood skewers, pre-soaked in water to prevent burning
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Juice of one lemon (zest optional)
- 2 tbsp fresh basil, parsley or both, chopped finely
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- Gather your crookneck squash, zucchini, onions and tomatoes and give them a slice and dice. Load them onto pre-soaked skewers and set aside in a platter or large Pyrex dish.
- In a small bowl, whisk up your marinade of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, lemon juice and/or zest, basil or parsley and garlic and drizzle over the veggies.
- Let the skewers sit in the marinade for a couple of hours or throw directly onto the barbecue and cook to your desired tenderness.
Posted on Thursday, July 3rd 2014
salt pepper oil and heat is all that’s needed for these potatoes that just came from the ground. #lowandslow
Posted on Wednesday, July 2nd 2014
In Beijing, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo and other cities, the spectacle has triggered laughter, finger-pointing and questions from bemused passersby. But Mr. Han, 40, gives no answers.
“I want to create a game for the public and let society answer,” he said one recent afternoon while sitting in his airy studio on the outskirts of Beijing. “I’m just a player in this game. It’s your job to interpret the meaning.”
Posted on Sunday, June 29th 2014
See that? That’s the face of someone who obviously hasn’t seen next week’s forecast yet. It looks we’re heading into a week with temperatures in the high 90s, so even if you’ve already snagged one of the shady spots for the 4th of July parade downtown, there’s a good chance you’ll still suffer from mild heat stroke just like everyone else.
I planted some of the most beautiful winter squash (seen above) and hibiscus starts I’ve ever beheld this evening while the sun was low in the sky. I’m hoping they have a chance to get their bearings before the July heat takes them to school.
The peak planting window for summer crops is officially closing. Planning out and planting up that big blank slate of a south field was all fun and games comparatively speaking - now it’s time to buckle down and weed. Anyone want to help?
In the next couple weeks we will be selling a number of rare summer annuals in case you’ve got the ground space for them, including Glass Gem corn, Shirazi tobacco, Hibiscus, Japanese trifle tomatoes, Aji Amarillo peppers, Huichol flowering tobacco and Chinese Golden Giant amaranth. Try your hand at saving some of these rare seeds for your own arsenal. Information will be posted on our Facebook page so stay tuned if you’re interested.
Don’t forget - harvest is occurring on Thursday next week due to Independence Day on Friday. Be sure to grab your vegetables quickly before they too succumb to heat exhaustion. If you’re going to be out of town and don’t plan on picking up your share, please let us know.
Until next time,
Posted on Thursday, June 26th 2014