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Historical Agriculture

Posted 9/29/2016 12:57pm by Minnesota Food Association.

Well folks....

...the time for savoring the season is upon us. The gift of morning mist rolling across the fields as the cool air meets the warmth of the soil reminds us that the days are waning. It also reminds me of the Inca people who lived and farmed in and around Machu Picchu. There is a ruin in Peru, south of the Sacred Valley, south of Cuzco called Moray, where the Incans cultivated food. 

Moray sinks into the horizon. Three deep pits lined with terraces descend to a depth of 429 feet. Each terrace is connected to irrigation channels, has its own micro-climate and there is strong evidence to suggest that Moray operated as the first agricultural research station in the world. Could Incans have transplanted tropical plants, slowly acclimating them to grow in higher altitudes by planting them in a different terrace each year? How is the design of Moray situated in relation to the sun and the solstice, both significant elements of Incan culture? So many questions, such a fascinating place.

When I visited Moray I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru. Tasked with youth education I spent most of my time cooking, dancing and yoga-ing with kids in the Northern Department of Piura. In the Sacred Valley I became intrigued by the ingenuity of these ancient communities, especially how their knowledge for food and agriculture has been passed down from generation to generation. There are farmers around Cuzco who grow potatoes at high altitude, where the nights are cold and the days are warm. These farmers employ an age-old practice of cultivation knowing that the sun warms the soil just enough so that when the cool night air meets the land a fog envelopes the tender potato plant, insulating it against the cold, ensuring continued potato production. That is why the mist on the farm this morning reminded me of Peru and reminded me to savor and honor the waning season for all the land has provided and all the toil the farmers have contributed to the food we are eating today. Farming is as old as civilization and to think that the Incans developed agricultural techniques that are still in practice today is like, woah, super cool (or super chevere as the youth in Peru would say).

On the Farm

Farmers are beginning to clean up the fields, squash and pumpkins are curing and we had a whole host of third graders from Brimhall Elementary came on a service learning trip to the farm to clean onions, wash pumpkins and take some tractor trailer rides!

Our Harvest Party is only three weeks away. Did we tell you about the potluck yet? Thats right, its a potluck party so you can bring a dish to share and then delight in a variety of dishes prepared by fellow CSA members and farmers. There will also be a small farmer ceremony to highlight success of the season and congratulate our farmers in their training advances. 

 

 

 

Whats in the Box

 

Arugula, Carrots, Potatoes, Green Beans and Cilantro from Karen Family Farm

Green Beans, Eggplant and Onions from The Early Birds

Fennel, Lacinato Kale and Beets from Mhonpaj's Garden

Lacinato Kale from American Sustainable Organics

Hot Peppers and Butternut Squash from Sebra Farms

 

In the Kitchen

Beets. We haven't had many this year, but these root crops take soups, salads and roasted veggie mixes to a new level. Whether mixed with your Arugula, blue cheese, walnuts and a simple balsamic vinaigrette or cooked up in a borscht, these humble crops supply all sorts of nutrients. Plus they are a central character in Jitterbug Perfume, one of Tom Robbins quirky novels.

Jalapenos. My friends invited me over the other week for an addicting snack. 

Puree:

5 Jalapenos (without seeds, or with if you like it really spicy!)

2-3 cloves of garlic

1/2 bunch of Cilantro

Juice of 1-2 limes

Salt and pepper to taste

Its that east. Its that delicious. Put it on ANYTHING!

Butternut Squash. It is the beginning of the roasting season. What more could you want than a succulent deep orange squash with cardamom from Ottolenghi? Or maybe you are looking for a hearty squash and farro main dish from 101 Cookbooks that would be delicious as leftovers for lunch.

A good farmer is a craftsman of the highest order and a kind of artist- Wendell Berry

A leader and visionary, Wendell Berry is a must read for any food enthusiast.

 

Lebo Moore

Food Hub Manager

Minnesota Food Association/Big River Farms

651-433-3676 ext.21