Soil Health

Soil Health

soil in hands

The basis for healthy food is healthy soil. For soil to be healthy, populations of soil microbes should be just as diverse underground as populations of flora and fauna are above ground. These microbes are responsible for a multitude of soil properties, like moisture content, soil structure, conversion of elements into forms that plants can use, and transferring nutrients to plants, and ultimately to us.

Just one cup of healthy soil contains more microorganisms than there are people on the planet! They form a complex food web, based on decaying plant and animal matter, and involving countless forms of bacteria, fungi, nematodes and bugs. As they go about their living and dying, they create structures that stabilize the soil and convert nutrients from one chemical form to another.

Soil biota can sustainably produce nutrient-dense foods, as long as nutrients are somehow returned to the soil. But since the beginning of industrial agriculture, this efficient and productive nutrient recycling system has been completely disrupted.

Our reckless use of herbicides, pesticides and chemical fertilizers based on cheap fossil fuels are the basis of the destruction. Monocultures—growing single crops on a very large scale—is the core of industrial agriculture and it relies completely on chemical inputs that destroy soil organisms.

As we lose soil organisms, we lose soil health, and our food is losing nutritional value. Levels of iron, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins B and C, among others, have decreased in all kinds of vegetables, grains and meats since the 1950s, according to a landmark study by Donald Davis of the University of Texas (UT) at Austin which was published in December 2004 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Here at Nash’s, we work very hard to keep our levels of organic matter, and consequently the soil biota, high. We do that by building our own compost, cover cropping, and crop rotation, so that nutrients are not sucked out of the soil by the same crop year after year. On our organic farm, we consider every microbe in our rich alluvial soils to be a partner in producing healthy, nutritious food.


Your box 10-24-14

Week 16, October 24

Both boxes have: Red wheat flour, broccoli, pears, collard greens, red beets

The Small box also has:  Baby leeks, Savoy cabbage

The Standard box also has: Rainbow chard, parsnips, Italian parsley, Brussels sprouts

About Your Beets

beets in store tent-horz

Nash’s beets are sweet and tender. The sweetness is enhanced by roasting them.

Wash the beets thoroughly, then wrap in foil and bake at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes. When done, unwrap and hold under cold water. Now you can slide the skins off easily. Cut into quarters, and slice.

You can leave the skins on, of course. They are tender and delicious, and have lots of nutrients. Cut your raw beets into bite-sized pieces, put in a bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and a little garlic powder, if desired. Toss well so that all the pieces are coated. Put on a cookie sheet in a 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Turn the pieces and roast for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until tender.  Serve hot or cool down and slice on to a salad.

Beets are heart healthy because they lower blood pressure and levels of bad cholesterol. They are also excellent cleansers for the kidney, liver and blood, and  are high in powerful antioxidants, which means they help fight cancer. They have been used for centuries to treat anemia and fatigue. The Romans thought they were an aphrodisiac and modern science has backed that up!

Beets also contain a substance called betaine that is used to treat depression. They have tryptophan, as well, a substance that  relaxes the mind and increases our sense of well-being.


The Brussels sprouts and the broccoli in your boxes this week are both from the Wilson Field, located practically across the street from the Farm Store. The variety of sprouts is called Titan and it was planted in greenhouse flats in March  and transplanted into the Wilson field mid– June.  A month later, the broccoli plants were put in nearby, all part of a large block of fall and winter brassicas. As part of our natural pest control program, we alternated the brassicas with beds of bright purple phacelia, which attract wasps and ladybugs that feed on aphids.

Your beautiful pears came from Alvarez Organic Farms in Mabton, WA. Founded in 1988 by  Hilario Alvarez, this farm is one of the most successful and innovative farms in Washington.

This week’s recipes:

Collards Sauté

Kia’s Biscuits & Gravy


Your box 10-17-14

Week 15, October 17

Both boxes have: Sunchokes, Russet potatoes, garlic, Lacinato kale, triticale berries, cylinder beets & greens, carrots

The Small box also has: Arugula

The Standard box also has: Baby leeks, Savoy cabbage



sunchokes (2)

A sunchoke is a tuber, or an underground vegetable, like a cross between a rutabaga and a potato, with the flavor of sunflower seeds and the crunch of water chestnuts. It’s also called a Jerusalem artichoke, even though it is not an artichoke at all, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with Jerusalem. They are closely related to the sunflower. Native Americans were eating sunchokes centuries before the Europeans arrived in the 1500s. In fact, the Europeans thought sunchokes were poisonous at first. Once they got over that, they have enjoyed its nutty flavor in many dishes.

Jerusalem artichokes are easy to prepare. You can cook them just like you would a potato: roast, boil, saute, bake or steam. You can leave the skin on or peel it off.  It’s up to you, but make sure you wash them well. The surprising thing about these little roots is that you can also eat them raw. They add a great texture to salads, salsas, marinades and stir-frys, in small pieces or grated.

Sunchokes contain lots of vitamin C and a substance called inulin, a type of starch that can be tolerated by people with diabetes because it breaks down into fructose instead of glucose. This makes sunchokes a good substitute for potatoes for diabetics. Everyone, diabetic or not, can enjoy their great flavor, crunchy texture, and all the good nutrients they provide.

Sunchoke Parmesan

About Triticale Berries


Triticale is a cross between wheat (in Latin Triticum) and rye (Secale) first bred in the late 19th century in Scotland and Sweden. As a rule, triticale combines the yield potential, grain quality, and high protein of wheat with the disease and environmental tolerance of rye. Worldwide, it is grown mostly for forage or fodder, but it is tasty and nutritious and is now widely accepted as a delicious human food. It can be milled into flour and used as a substitute for wheat in breads, pie crusts, cookies, pizza dough and other baked goods, or rolled like oats, for a breakfast cereal.

The berries have a nut-like flavor that, once cooked, can be eaten either sweet (as a breakfast cereal with fruit, honey, yogurt and nuts) or savory (as a side dish, sautéed with onion, garlic , veggies and herbs).

Soak the berries overnight in plenty of water to cut back on your cooking time. Drain and add new water to cover, bring to a boil, then simmer for about 45 minutes. Strain (reserving the liquid for soup) and store in the fridge or freezer.

Add the cooked berries to soups, stews and salads., or mix with cooked rice for a tasty pilaf.

Kale & Triticale Risotto

Your box 10-3-14

Week 13, October 3

Both boxes have: Nash Red Kale, Red Beets with Greens, Napa Cabbage, Rainbow Carrots, Red Potatoes, Bartlett Pears, Naked Oats

The Small box also has: Baby Bok Choi

The Standard box also has: Corn, Apples


Naked Oats

The Naked Oats in your box this week are a variety called “Streaker.” Nash has focused on growing hull-less oats because when put through the combine, the grain loses its tough outer hull, and doesn’t require further de-hulling to cook and eat.

About 7 years ago, we tried growing naked oats, but the variety didn’t do well. Last year, Sam McCullough and the crew tried Streaker with success. This summer, our crop of about 8 acres was harvested in late August, yielding about 20,000 pounds of hull-less oats. We anticipate it will supply our store, markets, and farm shares until late summer 2015, when we harvest the next planting. With careful planning and attention to detail, we have been able to make an entirely new product available to our community, and increase the diversity of the grains we grow in the Dungeness Valley.

There are many health benefits of whole, hull-less oats. Traditional oats are 70‐75% digestible, whereas hull-less oats are 95% digestible. They still have the bran and germ, the source of soluble fiber and high protein, making them a good choice for folks at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, or stroke.

Pre‐soaking naked oats gives you a jump on the cooking time. Place them in a bowl or cooking pot and cover with water overnight. In the morning, drain and add fresh water. They will cook in much less time.

Check our Recipe Blog for other ways to cook naked oats.

Pan-seared Oatmeal

Also, an easy Crockpot Oatmeal with Nash’s Naked Oats

There’s no rule that says oatmeal needs to be served sweet. Try cooking the oatmeal and then mixing it hot with 1/2 cup of a strong-flavored grated cheese, like a sharp cheddar or smoked Gouda. Top it with a mixture of sautéed sliced onions and mushrooms, minced garlic, 1/2 tsp. dried thyme and salt and pepper to taste.  Now there’s a breakfast that will kick-start your day!

Rainbow Carrots

rainbow carrots-vert

Colorful carrots are not new. Purple and yellow carrots were grown in Afghanistan about 1,000 years ago, but for some reason, as carrots migrated into Europe, orange carrots were preferred, because they were more cold-tolerant. In the last 50 years, plant breeders have sought to bring the old varieties back.

Lots of color in produce indicates lots of phytochemicals. The more color you add to your diet, the healthier it is for you. Phytochemicals are compounds found naturally in plants that have only recently been studied in any depth. They are not considered “essential nutrients,” but appear to have effects on many human diseases.

The phytonutrients in these carrots help your body maintain good health. Orange indicates the presence of carotenes which promote healthy eyes. Purple have carotenes plus anthocyanin which help prevent heart disease. Yellow have xanthophykks and lutein, both of which help prevent cancer as well.

Rainbow Carrot Salad