ARTfarm Saturday Slaw-Breakers

Summertime is time to make slaw. Here is our list for Saturday’s stand, recipe follows! 

10 AM to 12 noon: Bunched sweet potato greens, red and yellow seasoning peppers, garlic chives, recao, basil, rosemary, loads of sweet potatoes in all sizes, sweet red pumpkin. Julie mangoes, Haitian Kidney mangoes, Viequen Butterball mangoes, plus lots of dragonfruit and sweet papaya, a few pineapples and passionfruit. Bethany’s amazing goat cheese, super fresh!

A sweet and sour raw Asian slaw salad of refreshing green fruits cools and delights the palate and is a great complementary foil for barbecued or grilled meats or other salty foods. 

Here’s Christina’s all-ARTfarm recipe:

Law-Breakin’ Slaw

2 green mangoes, peeled

3-4 large green papayas, peeled and seeds removed

1 lb. raw sweet pumpkin (yes, Yvette Browne!)

2–3 small red onions

Quarter cup or so of fresh raw peanuts, chopped and dry roasted with salt (yes, we have been experimenting with peanuts!)

Dressing:

Three small limes, juiced into a bowl

2 Tablespoons honey. Dissolve in lime juice

Few drops of potent pepper sauce or half a fresh chili pepper, diced

DIRECTIONS:

Grate the mango, papaya and pumpkin on a box grater (great upper arm workout) or using a food processor. Slice the red onions thin. Toss all together in a large bowl.

Mix together the dressing. Pour over and toss. Refrigerate. 

Roast the peanuts and sprinkle over top or reserve on side for garnish. 

Can also add blanched green beans, cucumber slices, a few cherry tomatoes. Or, in season right now, a bit of cubed mango or other sweet ripe fruits. 

Look for Luca at Mango Melee on Sunday! In the new farmer section!

Sheep & Cowpeas at ARTfarm

Over the sleepy summer and fall break, we grew some cover crops in the gardens at ARTfarm to help improve the soil for next year’s crops. Climbing up the golden dried stalks of harvested sweet corn were some large and very happy cowpea vines (Vigna unguiculata) replete with big green bean pods.

There is almost nothing in this world that our sheep enjoy more than fresh cowpea vines and beans. Friday afternoon we removed the upper part of the cowpea plants and offered them to all three groups of ovines. OMM NOM NOM NOM!

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Cowpeas are a forage that is high in protein, helping the sheep to grow and put on weight. The roots of the cowpea plants fix nitrogen into the soil.

Your ARTfarmers are busy planning next year’s season and preparing garden areas to receive young seedlings. We have been blessed with some beautiful rainfall in September. We look forward to seeing all of you in just a few more weeks when the farmstand reopens. Watch this space!

Love is in the Air… Dragonfruit in Love

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Here is your Dragonfruit horoscope for today: Sometimes a juicy dragonfruit will split open right on the vine, giving the appearance of a smiling dragon head. This delicious, juicy wonderment elicits a deep passion within many people. If you happen to be a dragonfruit, look out for the affection of others… It can be all-consuming.

We have a huge box of locally grown dragonfruit (pitaya) for your holiday weekend today! Like revenge, they are a dish best served cold, so grab some and put them in the fridge to chill! (Yes, that is Farmer Luca singing in the video, and Christina on human beat box. Sweet!)

Saturday summer farm stand at ARTfarm, 10 AM – 12 noon: salad mix, microgreens, cucumbers; beets, radishes and onions with their beautiful edible green tops; Italian basil, recao, mint, thyme, papaya, passionfruit, pineapple, and Julie and kidney mangoes from ARTfarm. From our partners: Dragonfruit from Solitude Farm, fresh bread from Tess, raw local honey from Errol!

Seaweed Salad

Sheep need certain trace minerals in their diet to thrive. You can give them minerals via a salt block purchased at a feed store, but we’re always trying to find ways to farm sustainably on St. Croix without importing things on big diesel-powered container ships.

On an online sheep forum we came across a shepherd in Maine who gives his sheep fresh seaweed from the beach. So we collected an assortment of wet and dry seaweeds from our local strand, and what do you know? The girls loved it!

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Beeeeeee Sunday!

With all the fantastic rain and blooming flowers and growth it is swarming season for bees that have outgrown their hives.

A swarm in May is worth a bale of hay.
A swarm in June is worth a silver spoon.
A swarm in July isn’t worth a fly.

Over the last two days we observed a group of about 20-30 bees actively investigating various structures around the farm. They were curious but not aggressive or interested in us. (Bees are very singular in purpose. When they are scouting, they are not looking to sting anyone. They look scary as they swoop about in large groups, buzzing loudly, but since they are not defending their home, they won’t sting unless someone is swatting at them, crushes one, or shows aggression toward them.)

This morning the same smallish group of 20-30 bees was spotted scoping out a space above the back kitchen door of one of the historical buildings on the property. Within ten minutes, a deafening hum could be heard as literally thousands of bees descended and began moving into a 1/2 inch crack near a roof beam at the same location.

Christina called our beekeeper, Wanda of Wright Apiary, for assistance and the two ladies donned bee suits and were able to pry up a small piece of plywood covering the hollow space in the roof structure, and gently vacuum the extremely large and healthy swarm out of the inside of the roof and into two small cages using special beekeeping tools. A bit of smoke from a hive smoker along a crack in the wall encouraged most of the rest of the bees to come back out from the deep recesses of the roof structure.

About halfway through the removal process Wanda was skilled enough to spot the large queen and capture her in a special queen box. Wanda installed the queen, in her cage, into a temporary small hive box and we began the process of gently shaking and brushing pounds and pounds of buzzing bees from the now heavy small cages into the small hive box. Lastly, Wanda placed a bit of bee food in the hive box to help them feel invested in their new location.

The hive box will remain near the hole in the roof for a few days until the rest of the bees have found their queen. Then we’ll move them into a larger hive box with a comb or two of ‘brood comb’ where the queen, once released from her cage, can immediately start laying her eggs. This should encourage the bees to stay in the new hive, even though it wasn’t their first choice.

If you spot bees swarming around your yard or home, don’t panic. Bees that are out and about looking for a place to live are focussed on the move and are not looking to sting people. A large swarm hanging off a tree can look like an odd, dark colored termite nest. It’s thousands of bees surrounding their queen, awaiting directions from the scouting party. Keep a comfortable distance and be careful not to disturb the swarm, but feel free to observe them. They’re only in an exposed area like that briefly, and will be gone within hours or a day or two at most, as soon as their scouting party finds the perfect new hollow spot.

To prevent a swarm of bees from moving into structures, patch up or caulk up cracks. Bees can move into hollow spaces with just a 1/4″ opening available to them. If bees do move into a structure, you can call 911 for assistance and they’ll direct you to a local beekeeper who can remove (or exterminate) the hive using specialized tools, protective clothing and equipment.

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