Land in Watsonville and Hollister
Years farming: Andy has farmed
for the last 20 years in various capacities from
farmworker to owner, from large farm to small.
Total acres farmed: 25
Key people: Andy, farmer and
rave king; Julia, farm wife, CEO, mom, email elf,
etc.; España, foreman, tractor driver,
all around repairman; Jose España, head
harvester; Lourdes Duarte, head vegetable packer
Range of crops: greens, root
crops, tubers and herbs, berries, peppers, tomatoes,
garlic, melons, artichokes, and more besides that.
Marketing methods: CSA and 1
farmers market, with a small number of carefully
selected restaurants that pick up at the farmers
Soil type: silty loam
Regenerative practices: cover
cropping, crop rotation, fallowing
Length of season: all year
June 2, 2005: One of my chores as a kid
was to pick all the overgrown, baseball-bat-sized zucchinis
and break them over the corral fence for the pigs to eat.
When the hogs would see me coming they’d squeal with
an urgency that makes a car alarm sound like a lullaby. I
remember one old boar, Roger, who’d fight his way through
the pack of swine to seize the biggest squash in his jaws.
Roger would chew up zucchini faster than he could swallow
and I vividly remember masticated squash extruding from the
old pig’s nose.
Big zucchinis were fine for Roger but those of us who grow
summer squash can’t expect the same level of enthusiasm
from our customers. Farmers who run community supported agriculture
programs have to be especially sensitive about not over-supplying
our trusting harvest share holders with squash. I remind myself
that the folks who get my harvest box every week are not only
receiving my vegetables; by mid summer many a shame faced
but well meaning gardener can be seen leaving an unbidden
shopping bag with an eight pound zucchini on their neighbors’
doorsteps at dawn as though it were a baby Moses in a basket..
To avoid overexposing my farm’s shareholders to the
charms of Cucurbita pepo I’ve developed a six-point
don’t plant enough squash to give every shareholder
a bag every week. Instead, I plant
only enough squash so that each shareholder will get a bag
of every other week. I pick all the squash in the patch and
divide them up among half the shareholders one week and then
among the other half the following week. That way the whole
patch gets picked but people don’t receive so much squash
it starts piling up in their refrigerators.
don’t plant the varieties of summer squash that yield
the most prolifically; my customers can buy
those varieties in the supermarket. Instead, I rely on old
fashioned types like Costata Romanesco or Ronde du Nice that
offer something special like extra firm texture or an interesting
shape to add interest. Costata Romanesco is the variety overwhelmingly
preferred by my restaurant accounts because of its flavor
and cooking qualities and it doesn’t get pithy even
when it gets larger. Ronde du Nice is round and lends itself
well to stuffing. An added attraction to many old fashioned
squash types is that they sport a high percentage of male
blossoms which can be harvested for sale to restaurants.
plant lots of herbs. Giving customers a wide
range of summer squash types in varying decorator colors and
novelty shapes is fine for the eye but squash all taste more
or less the same. By giving our share-box holders a different
herb each week we can teach them how to use the summer squash’s
bland, pliant nature to advantage. Squash with dill tastes
really different than squash prepared with mint, basil, sage,
thyme, marjoram, savory or oregano. Just to keep things interesting
we grow seven types of basil.
take big, bloater zucchinis to the farmers market. Over
the years I’ve noticed that cook books and cooking shows
have inculcated the public with the cult of eating babies.
A tiny squash is “extra fancy” while a zaftig,
more “Rubenesque” zucchini is scorned like a fat
Elvis. But some cultures resist the infantilization of the
squash harvest. I’ve met emigre Englishmen, for example,
who crave the taste of “stuffed vegetable marrow”.
“Vegetable marrow” is only Queen’s English
for over grown zucchini. Ethnic Italians have been known to
stuff big zucchinis, too.
I count on my wife, Julia, to put lots of different recipes
for squash in our CSA newsletter. Cucurbita
pepo may have originated in the Americas but it has been adopted
by just about every cuisine on earth. Julia is assembling
a comprehensive and trial-tested online recipe list that our
highly wired customers can access at any time if they want
solutions to vexing squash problems. She has solicited recipes
from the customers, too, so we access creations beyond the
sphere of our own experience.
I’m thinking about getting a pig. I
get tired of hearing my children whine when they see squash
on the dinner table. I’m nostalgic for those times in
my youth when I could serve squash to swine that never complained
and, instead, squealed in delight. Those pigs made me feel
like a great chef must when he gazes out from the kitchen
across a room full of satisfied customers.
Aunt Joan's Zucchini
as remembered by Julia
1.5 pounds summer squash, mixed or all one variety
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
some chopped fresh basil
grated fresh parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
Thinly slice the summer squash. Heat oil over
moderate heat in medium-large frying pan. Add
the minced garlic, and let cook for just a few
seconds, don't let it brown. Then add the squash,
spreading out in the pan so it can all cook evenly.
Once the first layer is browned up a bit, stir
it around the pan, letting the still-uncooked
squash hit the oil below for a little browning.
You can add a bit more oil at this point if you
like. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Once
it's all cooked (7-12 minutes), remove to a serving
dish and top with the fresh chopped basil and
the parmesan. Serves 3-4
* * *
1/2 cup milk
4 medium summer squashes, grated
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated cheese
1/3 cup each chopped fresh parsley, basil and
2 tablespoons minced shallot or green onion
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
Mix together eggs and milk. Add squash, herbs
and shallots. Then mix in the cheese. Add slowly
the bread crumbs and flour and mix well. In a
large, heavy, non-stick skillet, melt 1T butter
until it starts to brown. Spoon about 1/4C of
mixture into the pan and flatten a bit with the
spoon. You might be able to fit 2 pancakes into
the same pan at once. When the edges show a little
browning turn with a spatula. Cook the other side
until it is also golden brown. Keep pancakes warm
in the oven until they are all cooked.
* * *
Vegetable Kebabs with Mustard
16 baby carrots, peeled
16 baby yellow scallop squash or 3/4 pound yellow
16 baby zucchini or 3/4 pound zucchini
16 red or white pearl onions
1-1/2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 large red bell peppers, cut into sixteen 2-by-3/4-inch
8, 12-inch bamboo skewers, soaked in water for
In a large saucepan of boiling salted water,
cook carrots 1
minute. Add yellow squash and zucchini and cook
5 minutes. Transfer vegetables with a slotted
spoon to a
large bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking
well in a colander. Transfer vegetables to a bowl.
using larger yellow squash and zucchini cut them
total of thirty-two 3/4-inch pieces.) In boiling
remaining in pan, cook onions 4 minutes and transfer
slotted spoon to bowl of ice and cold water. Drain
well in colander and peel, leaving root ends intact.
Vegetables may be boiled 1 day ahead and chilled
sealable plastic bags.
In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard,
salt and pepper to taste. Basting sauce may be
made 1 day
ahead and chilled, covered.
Thread vegetables, alternating them, onto skewers.
one side of kebabs with about half of sauce and
coated side down, on an oiled rack set 5 to 6
glowing coals 5 minutes. Brush kebabs with remaining
and turn. Grill kebabs 5 minutes more, or until
tender. (Alternatively, kebabs may be grilled
in a hot
well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderately