What's growing at Steelgrass Farm?

We are! Thanks to all the layer hens, longan, star fruit, avocado, lilikoi and bananas at Uncle Tony's Farm my family has been given an opportunity to localize our diet. Being poor in material wealth has it's upside in that when I don't want or have the chance to buy food, I find food, and I grow food. Yesterday I made of list of what we've planted this month: lettuce, arugula, rainbow chard, collard greens, watermelon radish, beets, corn, squashes, turmeric, watermelon and tomatoes. Growing alongside the edge of the beds is wild guava and lilikoi, and deep within the woods are feral pigs and chickens. Aside from building a market garden for business we're planting a grocery and pharmacy. 

Rosa has enjoyed spraying a water bottle since she could walk and as we grow together I'm starting to find ways to channel her enjoyments into productive playtime. Here she is giving the baby lettuces a spray of water to cool down in the mid-day sun. 

To the right the beds are recently tilled and ready for planting, to the left I put down homegrown compost, crushed coral (for pH balance) and organic fertilizer. Every two to three weeks there will be a rotation/expansion. 

Walking the dog. 

Yesterday was the first day I brought Rosa up to the farm for a half day of work. While I tilled she drew with pastels all over the nursery floor, then... 

we filled 50 pots with top soil and planted Grandma Billie's tomato and watermelon seeds. I don't know if she will recall these times at the farm, but at least for her far distant memory may this child remember how to take care of and live with the land. 


Butternut squash. 

Turmeric... and I scattered 40 corn seed between each plant. Every 10 feet on this massively raised bed is a squash and I'm going to gently throw down some beans to see what happens. 

The turmeric that was planted was found orphaned on the new land parcel at Steelgrass. It's not yet harvest season, but if it stayed where it was it was going to dozed and mowed. I dug it up and harvested the original rhizomes, then replanted the young roots to continue on their growing season. 

It's often used in curries. We also chew on it and make juice out of it, and sometimes I use it for making backyard radish kimchi and soups. Turmeric is good for the skin and hair, and is anti-inflammatory and helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol.  

Chef David used a pinch of turmeric in kobocha squash soup that he prepared for chicken researchers that were visiting the farm. Here's a news article on what's going on with some of Kauai's chickens. The biologist said avian flu has been ruled out, but botulism is likely the cause of the death of a dozen or so chickens in downtown Lihue. Not a good time to start eating wild chicken I suppose. 

I donated a chocolate and vanilla cheesecake to the party. 

First dinner at Steelgrass... seared ahi, local steak with chocolate and chili rub, maui manoa lettuce with avo dressing, garden ginger pickled carrots and homemade bread. 

For dessert... cheesecake... or wild guava. 

While picking guava we found a ripe bunch of bananas. 

When the avocados ripen pigs and rats move in. To prevent an infestation of nibblers I pick them as they ripen. What doesn't sell to the markets goes to the farm tour, to Hamlet the piggy, in our bellies and passed along to neighbors. Seems like every farmer has avocado to sell right now. This one avocado tree has produced over 150 lbs. of avocado. 

That was only one tree... there's a dozen on the farm. Not all of them fruit at the same season and have the same taste and shape. Some turn dark purple when ripe, others black and some stay green. 

Who is this Meyer from China? 


Hundreds of orchids and flowers all around.

Longan fruit.

Unripe lilikoi.


Wee little sugar loaf pineapple.

Grandfather chocolate.


Aina - that which feeds us

full movie available free here: http://ainafeeds.us/film

youtube trailer.. 


Homemade Chocolate

No hurricanes or tropical storms this year have directly kissed Kauai. Close, but no pancakes on a cast iron over kiawe wood with the electric out, darn. Reassures us all that science is a few ranks below the wildness of nature. And above nature on Earth, I reckon the sun and cosmic rays have a bigger say in how our planet downgrades and distributes energy from the universe, but that's a whole other discussion for a rainy day. Thankfully, we got rain and thunder this week. 

We were prepared every step of the way. 

What's this post about? A little bit of this, a little bit of that... oh yes, my darlings, chocolate. Better yet, chocolate made at home. Once you try it, you'll never go back to store bought. The trick though, is finding a local bean and if you're not living in Hawaii then good luck for sourcing locally in the USdeA and Canada. Also, the raw beans need to be fermented and this process can make or break the flavour and health of the bean. Here are pre-fermented and semi-dehydrated beans from our farm.

Next you roast the beans. I did them for 30 minutes starting at 325 in a toaster oven and decreased the temperature 25 degrees every 5 minutes until I hit 250, then I let them cruise at that heat until they basically smell like lovely chocolate.

Then I ground them with organic coconut sugar into a paste.

I kept processing them until it became warm and liquid-like. Finally, I molded it and popped it into the fridge to cool for a couple hours. Out comes the best chocolate I've ever tasted... and this kind contains all the yummy cacao oil, too. Good for the body, but can make for a gooey treat if left in the sun like most other chocolates.

How it was done 4,000 years ago. Bringing back the dead.

Onwards to the lettuce patch. For a long time a pile of flats and shade cloth and pipes and more farmer necessities have been lingering beneath the java plum tree, but no more for they now have a new home... the nursery.

Tony worked like a horse to get the tent up before the rain came. While he tinkered with the bamboo posts and waterline I fixed the pull cord on the tiller. During this last full moon the jeep breaks went haywire, tiller wouldn't shift and pull cord broke, the farm truck had a gas leak... and the computer died for just the night of the full moon and the camera was lost. Interesting. Maybe, just maybe, nothing was meant to be done that day/night.

The ladies were off in the woods gathering avocados while the boys worked the farm.

Nursery is almost there.

I have water, a table and seeds... let's sow.

After 6 hours of dropping one little seed in one little cell I created a yoga called sowga. Sow, while you stretch in all funny positions taking deep breaths and try not to go cross-eyed.

6,000 planted by the end of today. Two weeks from now 6,000 more...

One happy cashew nut tree.