Salamander Springs Farm/Permaculture Organics

  (Berea, Kentucky)
Permaculture in Practice: Shopper's Basket CSA
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Your CSA box, the "Dirty Dozen" (most toxic conventional produce) and "The Story of the Elkins' Bean"

See "The Dirty Dozen" (conventionally grown fruits & veggies most laden with pesticides) and “The Story of the Elkins' Bean,” below!

HEIRLOOM POLE BEANS! Take your pick at the market of 3 local favorite old-time heirlooms:  Half Runner, Elkins, or Preacher (Rattlesnake Pole) beans. 
Heirloom pole beans have a heartier, sweeter flavor than stringless snap beans.  More than a vegetable, they provide a substantial amount of protein as well.  Harvested when the inner bean seeds have started to fill out, they can be a meal in themselves!  String before cooking (pull off the string along each seam from each end of the bean).  Cook about 12-15 minutes (the fatter the bean, the longer the cook time).  Heirloom beans with a pot of potatoes, pearl onions, butter & salt makes a simple, hearty meal with unmatched flavor!   Heirloom pole beans were also traditionally eaten at the “shucky bean” stage--harvested after the beans in the pod fill out and the pod yellows on the vine--and shelled out for soup beans.  They were crucial to sustaining pioneer families through harsh conditions and winters.  Read the fascinating story of the Elkins Bean below. The rich flavor of heirloom pole beans is still treasured today by their ancestors.
If you prefer stringless SNAP BEANS instead, we have those, too.  Picked when the inner bean seeds have not had a chance to form, they need little cooking nor stringing.  They can be eaten raw in dips, put into stir-fries, egg dishes, steamed or cooked with butter & salt. 
Beans for freezing or canning:   if you are interested in processing green beans for winter, we offer our CSA members additional green beans at the market at a discount ($1.50 lb.).  Ask us for processing tips. 

Liberty APPLES, Asian PEARS & PEACHES! - select a few of your choice at the market.  
Some of our crisp and sweet Liberty apples and Asian pears are starting to ripen just as we enter our last week for peaches.  The branches of our “pregnant” peach tree are no longer fruit-laden (many were processed, frozen, flavored Kombucha, or made into delicious cobblers).  We’ve found the plum curculio bored into some fruit (found in the brown area round the pit) but the rest of the fruit is delicious.   Not cosmetically perfect means safe to eat!   If you think you’d rather have a apple or peach without the possibility of a plum curculio, looking at the “Dirty Dozen” list of most toxic, pesticide-laden fruits & veggies below might change your mind.

FINGERLING POTATOES!  So all of you can experience the tender little fingerling potatoes this season, we are setting aside quart boxes (about 1.75#) of our yellow Austrian Crescent fingerlings this week!  These small & tender yellow-fleshed tan potatoes look like fingers. “Like morsels of butter,” they’re a hit in gourmet restaurants and are perfect for roasted potatoes with meat or just with olive oil, rosemary & salt.  YUM!
If you prefer another type you can swap them for Irish Cobbler/Yukon Golds or Purple Viking potatoes at the market.  With the unprecedented rains this season, we have found the potatoes, which survived standing water, to be more watery than normal and will likely not store as long as normal.

SWEET CANDY ONIONS of various sizes.  These are mild and sweet, less sulfury than our winter storage onions:  they don’t make you cry, so not for long storage.  We’ll give you sweet onions now and storage onions in the fall, unless you prefer otherwise.  Let us know how many you can use each week.

TOMATOES - HEIRLOOMS, PLUMS, CHERRIES:  choose 2# from a wide variety on the market table--from the yellow-gold Pineapple or Garden Peach, German Pink or Pink Plop Plum, to the dark purple Cherokee Purple or Black Krim (to name just a few).  Sometimes wild looking, their flavor is so much richer than the uniform standard red.  We also have cherry and plum tomatoes, which are the best for sun-dried tomatoes in our solar dehydrator.   Ask us about the different colors and varieties at the market and let us know your favorites.  See our past recipes for our favorite summer salad and natural homemade ketchup!  
If you wonder if it is important to buy organically grown tomatoes, take a look at the “Dirty Dozen” list of most pesticide laden fruits & veggies below.  I have personally experienced extreme nausea after 10 minutes in the greenhouse of one local grower, shortly after the commonly recommended fungicides were applied.
Many of the old-time heirloom tomatoes have “green shoulders” and a larger core when they are totally ripe (which was bred out of standard industry tomatoes--just slice off the green top.   Do not refrigerate tomatoes--it nullifies tomato flavor and turns the flesh mealy.  Keep them on your counter with stem-side down, covered with a cloth.  Use according to ripeness--within a couple days to a week.  To ripen further, leave a sunny windowsill (covered with a cloth).  
Remember that if you want more tomatoes to process (freeze, can, dry, make ketchup) our CSA members can purchase additional tomatoes at the market at a discount ($1.50 lb).

CUCUMBERS!  tender well-nurtured and freshly harvested cukes do not have to be peeled, and are wonderful fresh in salads on hot days.  See our favorite summer tomato-basil salad recipe below or the previously posted yogurt/cucumber/mint and Tabouli Salad recipes.  A look at the “Dirty Dozen” list of most pesticide laden fruits & veggies below might explain why most commercial cucumbers a have a bitter skin!

SUMMER SQUASH  See our egg frittata, Morning Glory muffins, or pan grilled squash recipes; use in roasted veggies, casseroles, rice or stir fries.  Summer squash store best dry & cool but not too cold. Wash just before use, water causes it to spoil more quickly.  A perforated bag is best to provide some air circulation.   Conventionally grown summer squash also made the “Dirty Dozen” list below...“contaminated with pesticides exceptionally toxic to the nervous system."

SWEET POTATO GREENS - the perfect summer green, delicious and nutritious stir-fried, sauteed or steamed with a little bit of lemon juice or butter.  Great in egg dishes, too, like our egg frittata recipe.  See the nutritional and medicinal benefits of sweet potato greens in the July 9 posting.

BANANA PEPPERS- these hardly classify as hot peppers, so even if you don’t like your dishes too spicy they will add some spice to your life!  Peppers are another “Dirty Dozen” toxic special when grown conventionally.

LEEKS last week for the season!  Sweeter and more pungent than onions; enjoy in creamy potato leek soup (July 2 recipe) stir-fries, roasted-veggies, or our egg frittata recipe.  You can use the green stalks, too.

FRESH BASIL  In the season of tomatoes, garlic, grilled squash, pesto and other sauces, fresh basil adds great flavor to so many dishes.  See the nutritional info and some of our favorite recipes in the past postings to learn why food can be your medicine.

Last but not least...

FRESH BAKED BREAD & SPECIAL TREATS from Drew & Lindsey at Clementine’s Bakery.

September 14-15 Permaculture in Practice Workshop at Salamander Springs Farm.  We’ll be sending out flyers this week.  Join us if you’d like to learn more about growing food & living by cycling resources, nutrients, & energy.  Feel free to forward to friends or family that might benefit.

If you’d like to freeze or make jam, our CSA members are again invited to come out to pick blackberries.  This is the last week before the season is over; they are a little smaller and harder to get now.  Give a call 893-3360 to let us know when you’d like to come and bring a bucket; wear long pants & sturdy shoes.


“Story of the Elkins' Bean”  Let’s keep planting & saving the seed for future generations! - a note from Susana  (August 6, 2013)

We are harvesting a delicious “new” (but very old) heirloom pole bean from our cornfield this year--one that has been selected and treasured by a family for close to 200 years!  The Elkins’ Bean bean is named for the family of our friend Garland Elkins near Brodhead, KY, whose family brought them from NC to KY before the time of the American civil war.  Garland’s great-grandmother Robinette was at 8 years old when the family began their journey over the mountains.  She was charged with keeping the seeds for this tasty bean safe and dry in her apron pocket.  During the post civil war years in KY, she often told the story of the family stopping to rest for a couple days at a beautiful place with a freshwater spring, near where WV, VA & KY join (site of the present-day Breaks National Park near Elkhorn KY).  When Garland gave me the seed, he told me that in the 1950’s, when he was about 15 years old, his family took his grandfather, then an an elderly man, to see this place she had so often spoke about and to get some water from the spring.  
The Elkins beans were grown on corn much like they do in our cornmeal cron field at Salamander Springs Farm; they have felt very at home here!  They are delicious fresh green in the summer and as a protein staple (“shucky beans”) in the fall & winter; Garland and family use them both ways to this day.  They shuck out the later yellowing beans for “the best soup bean I’ve ever tasted” (in his words).   They carry on many traditions of their ancestors who by necessity lived entirely from the land.  Corn, beans, squash, poultry and hogs were some of the mainstays of their diet--the Elkins family today still enjoy grits, soup beans, cornbread and crackling bread from the fat of a butchered hog.
Now in his mid-70’s, Garland wants these treasured bean seeds to live on.  Last fall when he brought me as goose to replace one that had been killed by a predator, he also gifted me these and other seeds--so that we can help keep them growing and feeding people in our community!  If you try these beans and love them, let us know if you’d like to grow them next year and we’ll share some of our seed with you!  If you don’t have corn to grow them on, a fence or trellis works, too.

In other news of the farm, Joshua Bills and I have wired the clay-Straw building for the new solar panel, which we were to mount last weekend, but alas it arrived shattered from Back Woods Solar.  In a few weeks we’ll hopefully have more sun-electric power on the farm--to help run our freezer which keeps your produce cold until it gets to market (via bottles of ice in the coolers).    It was actually hot (like a real summer day) for our farm tour last Saturday!  We got more rain, too, but thankfully not deluged this time.

I will be sending out flyers this week for our September 14-15 Permaculture in Practice workshop at Salamander Springs Farm.  We’d love you to join us if you’d like to learn more about growing food & living by cycling resources, nutrients, & energy.  Feel free to forward to friends or family that might benefit.

Many Blessings on your meals,

************************NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION!**************************
See past blog posts for nutritional benefits on this week’s fruits and veggies.

Instead of nutritional information this week, here’s the 2012 results of the Environmental Working Group’s annual testing of pesticide levels in fruits & vegetables:
“The Dirty Dozen” 
Conventionally grown fruits and veggies most laden with pesticides:
Sweet Bell & Hot Peppers
Summer Squash*
Leafy greens, especially Kale & Collards*

*= crops which did not meet traditional criteria but were "commonly contaminated with pesticides exceptionally toxic to the nervous system.
For more information, go to 

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