It’s the middle of spring, and that can only mean one thing… Permaculture is in the air. What is permaculture? Well, it’s a philosophy, it’s a style of gardening, it’s classes we teach here at the ranch, and it’s super easy to understand and practice!
Spring’s halfway through, but for us here in sunny southern California we still have a long growing season ahead. Happy planting from everyone here at Pathfinder Ranch.
Hello again from Pathfinder Ranch! Now that spring has sprung on the mountain, we wanted to take a moment to tell you all about some ways to get involved with your local community and get some great food while you’re at it. While Farmers Markets have risen in popularity the past few years, most people don’t know there is another way to get farm fresh produce and meat.
Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a perfect way to get to know and directly support your local farmers. Farms that offer a CSA will usually have a “box” filled with that week’s harvest. Depending on the farm, there may be produce, meat, or even processed products. Buying directly from the farm is cheaper for both you and the farmers as products sold at farmers markets have to be priced up to cover the cost of staffing the stall and renting the space.
Here is a list of some of our local farms that offer a CSA. If these are not convenient to you, look for a CSA in your area!
Inland Empire CSA – a partnership between Sage Mountain Farm and De Luz Farms
Sage Mountain Farm – produce and beef
Primal Pastures – lamb, beef, pork, chicken, eggs, fish, and honey
Da-Le Ranch – many different types of meat
Meanwhile at Pathfinder we are connecting with our food by planting it for ourselves! The garden is currently producing Brussel’s sprouts, lettuce and carrots from the winter, but in the high tunnel we are gearing up for a delicious and colorful summer. The students are helping us by seeding and transplanting melons, beans, and California Poppies among many other things. We hope a little time here in our garden will inspire our guests to go home and grow food and flowers for themselves!!
September was a big month at Pathfinder Ranch! Fall announced its presence, weather is cooling off (thankfully), the leaves are changing colors, four new naturalists are teaching away, two new chickens (Silkies) have joined our farm flock, and seven schools have already visited. Yes, the new season is in full swing. We also have a new addition to our garden space. Drum roll please… take a look at our High Tunnel! Our maintenance crew toiled away to get this up last month and we are so excited. This will allow us to extend our growing seasons, and give us more workspace for garden classes. Possibilities abound. Will we grow tomatoes? Eggplant? Flowers? Luffa? Keep your eye on our Facebook page for High Tunnel updates.
Autumn brings many things, including delicious seasonal produce like squash and pumpkin. Pumpkins are great for carving and pies, not to mention roasting the seeds for yet another yummy snack, but what about the medley of winter squash showing up this time of year? There’s always time to try new things, especially when it comes to trying new seasonal foods. There’s butternut, kombocha, acorn, delecata, spaghetti, and even calabaza squash. The list could continue, and there are more recipes than we could cook up if we spent the whole season in the kitchen, but here’s a simple recipe to get you into the autumn spirit.
Baked Acorn Squash
1) Preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C).
2) Using a sharp, sturdy knife, carefully cut the acorn squash in half, from stem to tip. (A rubber mallet can help if you have one.) The squash can rock back and forth, so take care as you are cutting it.
Use a sturdy metal spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy bits inside each squash half, until the inside is smooth.
Take a sharp paring knife and score the insides of the acorn squash halves in a cross-hatch pattern, about a half-inch deep cuts.
Place the squash halves cut side up in a roasting pan. Pour 1/4-inch of water over the bottom of the pan so that the squash doesn’t burn or get dried out in the oven.
3) Rub a half teaspoon of butter into the insides of each half. Sprinkle with a little salt if you are using unsalted butter. Crumble a tablespoon of brown sugar into the center of each half and drizzle with a teaspoon of maple syrup.
4) Bake for about an hour to one hour 15 minutes, until the tops of the squash halves are nicely browned, and the squash flesh is very soft and cooked through. It’s hard to overcook squash, because it just gets better as it caramelizes. But don’t under cook it.
When done, remove them from the oven and let them cool for a bit before serving. Spoon any buttery sugar sauce that has not already been absorbed by the squash over the exposed areas.
Well, that’s all for this installment. See you down the trail,
Pathfinder Ranch Naturalists