Blogs for May, 2013
checkout the archived city farm blog articles to learn about our takes on farm & city life
checkout the archived city farm blog articles to learn about our takes on farm & city life
We were gathered in a friend’s backyard in Echo Park. Holding wine glasses in hand, the setting sun slowly diminished our view of downtown L.A. and heightened the white twinkly lights draped over her garden. The chicken coop was quiet, citrus and grasses and lettuce grew all around us. It was magical; one of my favorite summer nights. And then, we discovered the fig tree.
Is it too much to say it was a religious experience? Perhaps it was the combination of the wine, the summer air, the sunset. However, the fig tree is historically considered sacred. In Buddhism, legend is that Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment (bodhi) while meditating underneath a Ficus religiosa (sacred fig). And in the Bible’s Old Testament, marking the prosperity of Solomon’s lifetime, “Judah and Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, lived in safety, everyone under their own vine and under their own fig tree.” (I Kings 4:25)
That night we stood under my friend’s fig tree and, without bothering to slice or prepare with a bit of honey or cheese, we pulled down the ripe fruit, soft to the touch, and popped fig after delicious fig into our mouths.
According to the Wikipedia page, “not all Ficus religiosa can be called a ‘Bodhi tree’. A ‘Bodhi tree’ must be able to trace its parent to another Bodhi tree and the line goes on until the first Bodhi tree under which the Lord Gautama Buddha gained enlightenment.”
Even if your tree can’t claim royal lineage, I recommend a little meditation (ahem – eating / drinking) time under a friendly fig. Don’t have a neighbor with a magical backyard? Create your own! The best time to plant a bare root tree is in the fall or winter, but with fig season fast approaching (June – October), plan to plant from a potted tree. GrowOrganic.com has great how-to videos and pointers, including the tip that all fruit trees need 6 to 8 hours of full sun. And to keep in mind how large the mature tree will be, to ensure it will not be shaded when it’s full grown.
For figs, they point out that while all fruit trees require well-drained soil, fig trees are able to handle wet soil better than the others. Ideally the soil depth should be 3 feet, but if you have a layer of hardpan, your raised bed should be about 2 feet deep.
Bodhi or basic, it can’t hurt your path to enlightenment to sit in the shade of a fig, listening to birds or the wind rustle the leaves or your neighbor sing slightly off-key. I advise you sit comfortably, surrounded by nature, a book, a plate of fresh figs, goat cheese, and honey. One of my favorite, simple recipes? Slice the fig in half, and arrange on the plate, scooping out a small dollop, if you will, of goat cheese to top each slice. (A little melon ball scoop makes it prettier for a party, but in a desperate fig & cheese craving, a teaspoon will do you.) Drizzle each with honey and sprinkle with crushed walnuts, and serve with a chilled white wine. Summer in a bite. Pass along the enlightenment and share with friends.
Are you growing a fig tree in your backyard? What is your favorite way to prepare them for yourself or to share? Leave a note here or on Twitter @rebeccasnavely and @TheCityFarm
(Photo: David Lebovitz’s recipe for roasted figs.)
As City Farm’s avocado groves give us endless California Hass Avocados, avocado trees also give an equally sweet gift, and I’m not talking about guacamole!
We are proud to announce the debut of our newest City Farm exclusive, 16 ounces of California harvested Avocado Honey.
This honey has a place in my heart and in my pantry. I use it in sickness and in health; perfect for teas with a sore throat, to spread on bread for a light breakfast and used as an alternative sugar in many chocolate filled desserts. Our last recipe with this honey was City Farm’s avocado pudding—so sweet it was almost dangerous! This honey can be mixed into yogurt, sauces, marinades and anything else your culinary minds can dream of.
Enjoy yours today, and comment me with recipe suggestions and honey creations of your own! Shop it here: https://thecityfarm.com/product/avocado-honey-2/
Sometimes, looking at older homes tucked into the hillsides of Silver Lake, or driving the winding coastal roads north of Malibu, I allow my vision to blur a bit and imagine I’m living in Italy. Reading books like “Under the Tuscan Sun,” I dream of packing up and moving more Mediterranean, because, as Eleanor Roosevelt tells us, “If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor.”
What better place to taste the full flavors of life than in Italy, where la dolce vita embraces plump, fresh tomatoes, local olive oils and wines poured into simple glasses, meals shared with friends and family? Bread, pasta, and infusing so many dishes, basil, the flavor of caprese salad and pizza margherita.
If blurring your vision while driving the coast sounds like enough risk for you, and you recall the part of “Tuscan Sun” where the ceiling collapsed, savor a bit of Italy in your own backyard or windowsill. Pick up one of The City Farm’s Herb Garden Boxes to add a rustic touch to your city life, throw on a colorful apron, turn up Rosemary Clooney’s Mambo Italiano, and practice your pizza dough toss. It’s time to grow your own basil.
According to BasilGuide.com, the herb thrives in bright light, so whether it’s living in your window or yard, be sure it’s getting five or more hours of sunlight each day. If you live in a colder climate, it will act as an annual, but for those without a freeze, it will grow perennially.
What do you love to make with fresh basil? Take a look at The Pioneer Woman’s recipe for a dreamy caprese salad. Mmm….tastes like summer. For a fresh pizza margherita, check out The Splendid Table’s take. And if you want to drink your herbs? Try Food & Wine’s Cucumber-Basil Martini.
It’s beginning to feel a lot like summer, with friends sending invites for backyard BBQs and outdoor movie screenings. And, according to writer Robert A. Heinlein: “Everything in excess! To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites. Moderation is for monks.”
Happy growing (and savoring)!
(Photos: Top – The City Farm, bottom – The Pioneer Woman)
As one of City Farm’s defining features, our 2,000 tree avocado orchards supply us with thousands of pounds of California Hass avocados each year. Avocados can be store bought year-round, however their season and City Farms best avocados are ripest from May through late summer. Our dinner recipes have been filled with avocado infused courses. Creamy avocado soup, gazpacho, and classic guacamole are just the beginning! I will
openly admit that I enjoy them plain—simple foods are my favorite.
Mother’s Day marked the beginning of our picking season. Over this past five days we’ve picked about 40,000 pounds (yes, pounds!) of avocados from our groves. That number may seem hard to believe; but when one tree can give up to 1,000 pounds–we’ve got so much more green goodness ahead. Hoping to pick another 90,000 pounds this season our crop grows bigger and more bountiful each year. I take kind care of my groves, this year they really took care of me; too. I’ll send more updates to you as we keep picking, and please share your avocado recommendations with me! Take care and Enjoy ~
Making the most of small spaces is an obsession of mine. I live in a studio: my bed must always be made, my clothes hung, and a place reserved for every item I own, because if there isn’t, there’s nowhere to walk, no door to shut to hide my messy side. Another aspect of city living in a small space is being made more aware that I am a trashy person. I make too much refuse. Reduce, reuse, and recycle is the song of city living: How can I repurpose that spaghetti sauce jar? What might I make with empty moisturizer tins?
How to combine living simply and off the (very little) land you have with reusing and reimagining? Like a city making space within a limited amount of land, you start to think “up” rather than out. Are you in a small space and wondering where to grow?
Vertically! Vertical window gardens, that is. And many people reuse soda bottles to do so. Which raises so many questions — How do you prepare the bottle? Is it safe to grow food in plastic, with the reports of the reported dangers of BPA in some plastics? More importantly, will I be judged if I admit I drink soda? (Though, always with a chaser of wheat grass, of course!) Or that I only drink said soda with rum?
All important questions that we will answer today, in your weekly GROW support group.
I live in surrounded by the farmer’s markets and vegan menus of Silver Lake, and don’t actually drink soda, and am silently judging all you who do. I kid – I’d trip a toddler** for a Coke made with real sugar, like the ones in glass botttles from Mexico. But if you do have left-over 2-liters or live next to a frat house and don’t mind combing their yard/recycling bin post-party, you too could grow your own hanging window garden. But! As the concerns about growing food in plastic are real, take extra caution, and visit Resilient Communities to choose the right containers before you begin.
This system is great for year-round growth, and embraces the reuse philosophy in its very system, as Window Farms describes: “nutrient-spiked water is pumped up from a reservoir at the base of the system and trickles down from bottle to bottle, bathing the roots along the way. Water and nutrients that are not absorbed collect in the reservoir and will be pumped through again at the next interval.”
Windowfarms.com offers set-up instructions and a community of growers. Who’s the DIY guru who’s going to give this a shot? Be sure to check back with us in the comments or on twitter to let us know how you’re growing! @TheCityfarm & @RebeccaSnavely
**I stole this expression from a Floridian friend. We both love toddlers and would never trip one. In fact, I have to refrain from using this forum to post photos of my 1-year-old nephew is new to the toddler and ADORABLE.
How did you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? If you carved into the green flesh of yummy avocados to make fresh guacamole, you can keep the green growing! Don’t throw away that pit, plant it.
I remember being baffled as a kid, seeing a shiny stone, pierced by toothpicks, held aloft in a juice glass of water. How could that shiny, seemingly impenetrable pit grow into a soft, green, fleshy fruit defended by dinosaur-like skin? It’s a glimpse of magic to watch a seed sprout above ground, before your eyes.
Inhabitat.com gives a great play by play for growing an avocado tree from your pit: how to gut your ‘cado without splitting the skin of the seed, how to determine which end is the “bottom” which will root in water, and which is the top, which will sprout. How to gently wash the pit (does licking it clean count?)
After taking good care of this oversized seed that will yield your yummy bounty, it’s time to stab your pit. Using four toothpicks, Inhabitat’s Jill Fehrenbacher suggests you angle them slightly downward, wedged firmly into the pit, so that the bottom will rest easily in the water, and the toothpicks rest soundly on the rim of the glass.
Set the glass on a well-lit windowsill for the sun to do its work. Step back, and admire your work as co-creator of a future tree. A TREE. This is a good time to name your seed. (See my earlier post, Greening Your Cubicle, for my attachment issues desk plants’ name.) If you’re like me, it never fails to amaze that I get to play a small part in helping green things grow. And then EATING them. (So don’t get too attached.)
Inhabitat.com gives more great tips on watching and watering your avocado into full growth, and when to plant it, and how to winter with it for those of you living in colder climes.
Any other tips on growing an avocado? Photos of trees you’ve raised from a cup of water? Or great recipes for guacamole or fresh summer salads? Leave a comment below or tweet @thecityfarm! And be sure to tag me @RebeccaSnavely
Quite a few jobs I end up on require a book to read or an iPhone loaded with a few movies. Not that I’m complaining or anything, its just best to be prepared for these things. On Clint Eastwood’s movie Changeling I sat in a chicken coop for about three nights out in the Mojave desert in October – in fact one of the more chilling scenes in the movie involving the kidnapper and a small child occurred the night of Halloween (creepy). I’ve often wondered how small children work on set when such horror is involved – I’m still not sure of the process (I was stuck in the back of a chicken coop you see) but the kids did a fantastic job.
I would periodically check on my chickens, see if they had enough water, it was night time, so they were sleeping for the most part – and then I would return to watch Dirty Dancing on my iPhone, sitting in a chicken coop.
Did I mention I was stuck in a chick coop?
Great set dressing by the way. I love working on period pieces. One of my first films I worked on was Titanic which was HUGE. Not just the size of the ship that James Cameron had laboriously recreated bolt for bolt, but the crew list, the departments, the extras. There was a lot of – everything, in very grand scale.