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Ayers Creek Farm Newsletter January 25 2015 Market

Sarah West

The ringing cowbell announcing the opening of the Hillsdale Farmers Market at 10:00 AM tomorrow also heralds another installment of last summer's sunshine carefully stored by nature in the first instance, and by us in the second.

Loganberries and raspberries harvested following the summer solstice still glow in the jars of preserves, and on your toast next week. Likewise the frikeh was harvested and roasted on the longest days. The currants and gages finalized their flavor in the midsummer sun, when people still take the season's heat for granted, waving it aside. The corn, cayennes, squash, beans and pumpkin seeds entered their maturity as the yellow of school buses reminds us to linger a bit longer before the warmth is truly precious. When we bring in the fiori d'inverno, the flowers of winter, this week, the roots that create those beautiful chicories fattened up around the autumnal equinox. Likewise the sweet potatoes and spuds, and the leaves that form the onions. The quinces and grapes captured their summer moment a bit tardy, ripening in the last rays of sun after the equinox.

The diversity of organs that store the sun's energy is also striking. There are seeds, fruits, leaves and stems all in the mix, all accomplishing the same storage function. With time, they are continuing to mature and their flavors are changing. This week, we encourage you all to try a slice of the hard-skinned Sibley squash and the purple sweet potatoes, both of which reach their prime in terms of sweetness and flavor in late January. For those on quest for ever more anthocyanins in their diet, the purple sweet potatoes have intense concentrations of these desirable pigments.

Finally, a nod to that great perennial root, the horseradish, which accumulates several years of summer light before it is ready for harvest.

With that, we hope to see you all anon,

Carol & Anthony Boutard
Ayers Creek Farm

Ayers Creek Farm Newsletter November 23 2014 Market

Sarah West

All of the beans and grains sold at the Hillsdale Farmers’ Market are grown by us on the farm. We do not repackage other farms’ production, or buy bulk beans for resale, and we are certified organic.

A theme running through Ayers Creek’s grains, legumes and vegetables is adaptation to our latitude, the 45th parallel. We look to maritime influenced regions such as the Bordeaux and Dordogne, Galicia in Spain, the Po River Valley, parts of the Danube Valley, and Hokkaido, Japan. We are not bound by such an analysis, but it is a useful vetting mechanism.

Our primary selection criterion is a bean that can be savored on its own, just a bit of salt and olive oil. Over the last 12 years, we have grown a wide diversity of dry beans; the beans below we deem worth growing. Cute stories and pretty color patterns don't carry much water with restaurants or habitual bean eaters; the flavor and texture are everything once it gets to the plate. 

We prefer soaking the beans overnight before cooking. The bean is a dormant, living plant. When you soak it, the plant opens up its toolkit of enzymes and starts to break apart the large protein and carbohydrate molecules that store its nutrients and energy. In our experience, soaking lends the bean a discernible sweetness and a smoother texture than just hamming things apart with heat. We treat soaking as an elegant step in the process rather than an inconvenience. However, with a good bean, it is best to cook it however you want. If the ritual of soaking irritates or crimps your style, relax and follow some other method and hammer away. Regardless, you are not affecting the nutritional value if you soak the beans, and toss out the soaking water.

The next day we drain them, add fresh water, bring to a boil and then simmer until tender. Time varies by variety and age of the bean. You can also add herbs, carrots, onions and celery to season the beans. If the dish calls for meat, we generally cook the beans in water first so they retain their own flavor. Avoid cooking beans in an acid liquid such as tomato sauce because they will not cook properly, remaining tough and grainy. It is fine to add salt whenever you want. We follow the late Judy Rodgers suggestion to salt the cooking water to taste. Refrigerate the beans in their cooking liquid.

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Ayers Creek Farm Newsletter November 16 2014 Market

Sarah West

I will have van loaded for tomorrow's Hillsdale Farmers' Market, set up with winter shoes in case of ice.  The market opens with the bell at 10:00 AM.

Monday, we processed most of the plum preserves, leaving just the green gage after Thanksgiving. The jar were still too hot to handle when Carol left for  Branchport, NY, perched at the tip of the middle finger lake, offering a few weeks of postpartum companionship for our daughter. 

The cold weather has forestalled plans to harvest greens, they are fine but are too delicate to handle. It is a waste of time to even try. Nonetheless, I will have fennel, spuds, sweet potatoes, knob celery, onions and black radish. A couple of other odds and ends as well.

I will also have on hand a splendid assortment of legumes and grains. Cayennes and pumpkin seeds as well. As noted earlier, there is a good selection of preserves ready.

Anthony Boutard
Ayers Creek Farm

Ayers Creek Farm Newsletter February 19 2012

Sarah West

We conclude our winter season at Hillsdale Farmers' Market this Sunday. The market runs from 10:00 to 2:00. As Carol is out of town, Linda Colwell and Kathleen Bauer will help me prepare, and Linda will cover the second till on Sunday. Thanks Kathleen and Linda.

First a few administrative details.

1.    We will return to the market on the 1st of July. If all goes well, we hope to have Field Day at the farm on 24th of June. We will send out an email confirming the event.

2.     Here is our annual disclaimer: if you tire of hearing prattle about life in Gaston, send an email and we will drop you ever so gently from the recipients' list.    

3.    If you run short of our preserves and Brand X disappoints, our preserves are available at City Market, 735 NW 21st Ave, Pastaworks, 3735 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Foster & Dobbs, 2518 NE 15th Ave, Cheese Bar, 8031 SE Belmont, People's Cooperative, 3029 SE 21st Ave, Woodsman Tavern, 4537 SE Division, and R. Stuart Tasting Room in McMinnville. In addition, Gwen Vilches at Give Portland (www.giveportlandgifts.com), puts together lovely gift baskets that include our preserves and a broad range of other things made in Portland.

Our market pantry is getting low, but we will have enough to justify pausing at our stall. Here is what we will have:

Grains: Frumento (soft red wheat), Jet Barley (naked), Roy's Calais Flint and Amish Butter cornmeal and whole kernels for hominy. We will have pickling lime and instructions on hand if you need them.

Popcorn: Amish Butter

Legumes: Chickpeas and beans.

Roots & Tubers: Potatoes and rutabagas, and a bit of horseradish as well.

Winter Squash: Sibley and Musquee, whole or by the slice.

Greens: Chic chicories, luscious leeks, marvelous mustards and other gratifying greens.

Preserves: Full selection.
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Who's Minding the Frogs?

Fourteen years ago this month, we made an offer on the 144 acres that has become Ayers Creek Farm. We followed the excellent advice of Cato the Censor regarding the most important considerations in purchasing a farm: water, roads and neighbors (aquam, viam, vicinum). Although Cato was thinking of the other farms as the neighbors, for us the Y-shaped draw that cuts through the farm is now an important part of our neighborhood. Flanked by ancient Garry oaks, Douglas firs, a couple of madrones, big-leaf maples, hawthorns and service berries, this is the marrow of the farm. In using "marrow," both senses of the word apply, the life sustaining core of the farm's bones and, in old English vernacular, a partner or spouse.

When we arrived at the farm, the draw was choked with blackberries and used for decades as a dump. Water heaters by the dozens, engine blocks, stoves, refrigerators and other appliances, along with great coils of barbed wire, had been been pushed into the thorny mess. Over a two year period, we cleaned it up, hauling out the blackberries and appliances. It took longer for draw's function to return, but over time native plants reestablished themselves. Each year, we see improvements as we patrol, shovel in hand, for surviving blackberries.

This marrow of the farm now supports a pair of red-tailed hawks, three or four kestrel families, and a pair of great horned owls. The owl laid the first of her eggs last Wednesday, and is brooding. The second egg will be under her soon. The kestrels and red tails are amorous and will join the broody owl in their nesting tasks. Over the summer, flickers, wrens, brown creepers, orioles, acorn woodpeckers, nuthatches, tanagers, various warblers and juncos will all raise clutches in the draw and on its flanks. The engine that supports this diversity is the complex mixture of grasses and broadleaf plants that grow on the ground once choked off by blackberries and appliances. The grubs and caterpillars that eat the leaves in turn feed the growing chicks. And some of those growing chicks will fatten the young owls, hawks and falcons.

In the wet soil at the base of the draw, a healthy population of red legged and tree frogs developed. They migrated out into the oak savannah and the cropped fields during the summer and early autumn. Dozens made their home around the house, seeking shelter in the shiplap siding during the day. They were constantly underfoot. Many came inside with the house plants, and we enjoyed their calls during the winter. The large, phlegmatic salamanders (Pacific ambystomas) also started appearing in the fields. The increasing populations of these amphibians validated our management efforts. We have come to terms with the fact that farming is necessarily disruptive of natural communities, but having the reinvigorated marrow of the farm offsetting our activities is a balm.

Late last April, following the release of radiation from the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors and its detection over the Pacific Northwest, we corresponded with a customer regarding its effect on our food. Our response was that lighter radioactive isotopes carried by the wind have a short half-life and by the time our fruits and vegetables are growing the weather pattern would shift away from the Pacific storm pattern. As I responded I thought to myself that if there was a problem, the frogs would be the first affected. We heard the peepers through the spring.

In July, when we started harvesting greens for market, we noticed the frogs had almost disappeared. Where we would disturb a dozen or more frogs any other year, we were lucky to see just one, and it was invariably small. The fields were silent, none of their rasping calls. In the evening we noticed that even the bull frogs in the wetland had ceased calling. We searched the siding, the smudges where the frogs crawled in and out remained, but there were no green faces staring at us – an erie Mary Celeste moment. We asked Zenón if he noticed anything different with the frogs. He shrugged his shoulders and said he thought there were plenty. Two days later, when he was working in the sweet potatoes, prime tree frog habitat, he called us over and said we were right, they had gone. When I had a moment, I went down the the ditch below the poplars, another reliable frog habitat, and the Leopard and Bull frogs were also missing. We decided to wait and see if things changed; it was a cool spring.

For months we have been watching and listening. Friday afternoon, we heard a single frog calling in the draw, a hopeful sign, but a far cry from previous years. Over the past decade, a chytrid fungus has decimated frog populations around the world, including high altitude populations in the Cascades, maybe it has encroached upon the valley floor. Perhaps frog populations are naturally cyclic and the cold spring was at fault. However, it was hard to shake off the knowledge that as our frogs were drawn by vernal rites to the water, the storms over the Pacific were delivering a radioactive welcome. Salamanders are also missing from their usual haunts. Like the frogs, these are fragile amphibians who must leave their protected lairs and travel, sometimes miles, to the ponds and wetlands where they mate, and the larval stages mature.

Fifty years ago, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring warned us to pay attention to the damage we do to world around us. The book was elegantly written, and carefully research and documented. Sadly, half a century later, Carol and I are waiting anxiously to see if the frog ponds remain silent this spring. We seem to be alone in this vigil, getting blank stares when we raise the matter, and I have hesitated to even broach the subject in a newsletter though it gnawed at me for months. Bees have their beekeepers and birds have their birdwatchers to sound the alarm when all is not right. Someone has to mind the frogs.

Hope to see you all Sunday,

Anthony Boutard
Ayers Creek Farm

Ayers Creek Farm Newsletter February 5 2012

Sarah West

For the Hillsdale Farmers' market, Sunday promises to be clear but windy. We will be leaving our tent in Gaston, saving a bit of work for the roustabouts. Otherwise, the cheery sales staff will be in place by 10:00 am.

 

Grains: Frumento (soft red wheat), Jet Barley (naked), Roy's Calais Flint and Amish Butter cornmeal and whole kernels for hominy. We will have pickling lime and instructions on hand if you need them.

Popcorn: Amish Butter

Pumpkin seeds: The seeds are delicious when dry roasted in a hot skillet or frying pan. They will pop and jump around in the pan. The gently toasted seed are excellent in salads, as a snack or for garnishing squash dishes.

Legumes: Chickpeas and beans.

Roots & Tubers: Potatoes, rutabagas, scorzonera

Winter Squash: Sibley and Musqueé, whole or by the slice. Nice way to accompany the pumpkin seeds.

Greens: Chicories, leeks, rocket and other small greens for salad enrichment.

Preserves: Full selection.
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Filling The Compost Bucket Is An Agricultural Act

The midden heap, the proto-compost pile of prehistoric settlements, is the first stop for archeologists. The bone fragments, chewed plant remains called "quids," shells, obsolete tools, and seeds tossed upon the heap provide insights on a culture's food habits, trade and other aspects of life before we started chronicling it all on tablet and paper. The midden was also the likely first stop for agriculture – a fertile incubator for the domestication and cultivation of plants. The concentration of organic matter and minerals yielded tender and flavorful vegetables close at hand, initially by chance and later by design. Those of you who have been tossing this winter's squash seeds into your backyard compost may have a knot of vines emerging among the potatoes and other kitchen scrap survivors. Composting is, in some respects, a reenactment of early agriculture.  

In archeological excavations, the squashes and pumpkins that emerge from your compost show up as the oldest domesticated plants in the Americas. In the neolithic age, before the development of pottery, they were collected at large for use as vessels for water, seeds and fruits. Around 6,000 to 9,000 years ago, cultivated forms of these cucurbits start to enter the archeological record. They were still the hard shelled cultivars used as containers, but the selection, planting and cultivation of the now larger fruits also yielded much larger seeds, one hallmark of domestication. Even with the advent of pottery production, light and durable squash hulls remained important vessels.

With domestication of the plant, squash and pumpkin seeds found their way into the American diet. They are flavorful and very nutritious. In Mexican and Central American cookery, the seeds are still used extensively in stews, soups and sauces, most famously in moles and pozoles. In Mexico and Central America there are dozens of local varieties with a range of flavors and seed sizes.

Members of the Cucurbitaceae contain extremely bitter toxins called cucurbitacins in their foliage, flowers and fruits which delayed the use of the other parts of the plant as a food. In addition, the early pumpkins had very fibrous flesh, essentially the unadorned vessels leading from the plant to the seed.  Eventually, in the protective custody of the plants' cultivators, the toxins no longer conferred an advantage and non-bitter cultivars emerged. These developed into the modern zucchini, crooknecks and winter squash we bring to market, where the vessels are surrounded with soft pulp. The squash and pumpkins bearing edible fruit were favored by the indigenous people of North America. Further south, the seeds, tendrils and flowers are still preferred over the fruit.

Like potatoes, peppers, corn and tomatoes, American squash found a place in European and Asian cooking. For the most part, the fruits and flowers are used. In the Austrian state of Styria, special pumpkins are grown for their seeds, which are roasted and pressed for oil. Towards the end of the 19th century, a Styrian pumpkin without a tough seed coat appeared, making the task of pressing oil more efficient. Although they are typically called naked seeded or hull-less, a papery vestigial seed coat remains. Kakai and Lady Godiva are the naked seeded Styrian pumpkin varieties commercially available in the United States.  

Three years ago, we purchased a package of "Brand X" pumpkin seeds for pozole and we were disappointed by their quality. They were expensive, stale, and most of the seeds were broken. Our disappointment led us to conclude that, as we were growing all of the other pozole ingredients, why not the pumpkin seeds? The following spring, we planted both hull-less varieties. Mice managed to find every seed in the Kakai row, but a few Godiva were missed and we harvested a small crop. The harvested seeds were orders of magnitude better than the Brand X sorts, but still expensive as the seeds were time-consuming to extract and clean. This year, we planted Kakai again and we refined the extraction process. We will have some of this year's pumpkin seeds this Sunday, close to Brand-X pricing.

The commercially available seed for Kakai is not well maintained, posing a challenge to the farmer. There is a huge amount of unproductive variability in the grex (breeding population). Some fruits have a high percentage of split seeds and their size varied tremendously. Some of the plants were bush types, and others vining. As we worked through them, we noticed the giant fruits had no more seeds than those a quarter of their size, just more useless pulp. There was variation in seed flavor from fruit to fruit, but for the most part it was consistently good. The serious problem was the number of fruits with split seeds, roughly 50%. The split seeds had started to germinate in the fruit and had an unpleasant bitterness.

We now have a rough idea of the beast at hand, and next year we will be working on selecting the best pumpkins for seed. We will plant the Kakai in an isolated section of the farm so there is no cross-pollination with other squash types. At harvest, we will mark the fruits with a plant number and, after they have cured, start the process of selecting seed from those with good characteristics. Initially, we will focus on small fruits without split seeds. We expect it will take several years to rework the variety. If we are successful, we will sell a very good pumpkin seed that makes financial sense to grow and harvest.

The process of drawing out favorable qualities from seed as described above is just the same as when a person selected the better seed among the plants sprouting on the midden heap, or the sharp-eyed Styrian farmer who happened upon a fruit with naked seeds and worked on its improvement. Patience and careful observation is what it takes. We have a big advantage because we will be building on dedicated work and expertise of the midden heap and Styrian farmers.

We will see you all tomorrow.

Carol and Anthony Boutard
Ayers Creek Farm



Ayers Creek Farm Newsletter 8 January 2012

Sarah West

Happy New Year. We will be at the Hillsdale Farmers' Market this Sunday, the 8th of January. The market opens at 10:00 am, and runs until 2:00 pm.

Somehow or another, Friends of Family Farmers has us on the list as one of their regular winter InFARMation speakers. Last summer, when Michelle Knaus asked if we would speak again in 2012, we thought it would be interesting to expand on the ideas in the "Of Cabbages and Seed" essay. Rebuilding a Toyota forklift as a topic first crossed our mind, but we are missing a few critical photos and it is a bit of a hassle bringing the machine to Portland, so second choice prevails. Here is a brief synopsis of the presentation:
 

"For most gardeners and farmers, January is the month when the seed catalogues arrive and we can begin planning for the next growing season. For some, the planning process is an on-going, year-round exercise because they produce some or all of their own seed, tubers and bulbs. At Ayers Creek Farm, Carol and Anthony Boutard maintain robust on-farm seed production in addition to harvesting crops for food. In this month's presentation, Anthony will describe the challenges and rewards of producing seed, as well as other methods of propagating crops."


The presentation is this Tuesday, 10th of January. InFARMation convenes at Holocene at the corner of SE Morrison and 10th (1001 SE Morrison). Doors open around 5:30, for those who want to pick up a brew and a bite to eat. The presentation and questions run from 6:30 to 8:00. The event always brings in an engaging group of people.

Here is what we will have:

Grains: Frumento (soft red wheat), Jet Barley (naked), Roy's Calais Flint and Amish Butter cornmeal and whole kernels for hominy. We will have pickling lime and instructions on hand if you need them.

Popcorn: Amish Butter.  

Legumes: Chickpeas, favas and beans.

Roots & Tubers: Once again, our root selection is limited this week. The ankle's on the mend. Rutabagas and sweet potatoes are certain; no ankle needed for them. Abel, who helped us at the market in early December, will do what he can on Saturday, after he gets home at noon from his winter job at our neighbor's nursery.

Winter Squash: Sibley and Musquee, whole or by the slice. Having cured for four months in a warm, dehumidified room, the squash is now at its peak. Concentrated sunshine from last summer.

Greens: Chicories, chervil, rocket, mustard, cress, kale, collards, cabbage. December left the greens a big haggard, but we will bring in the best. The plants will rebound as the days lengthen.

Preserves: Full selection.

Every year, there is one fruit that refuses to fall into line. This year, it is the red currant that jelled but did not set up firmly. The flavor is excellent and complex, but the texture is closer to a sauce than a traditional preserve. Our kitchen work was spot on, after cooking it sheeted beautifully and gave every indication of a good set, so that is not the problem. The only explanation is that we may have harvested the currants later than normal, and the fruits' pectin levels were lower as a result. We don't add pectin and usually we get a reasonable set. We know we live dangerously on this score, but we would rather enjoy the fruits' full flavor than dull their spritely nature with pectin from other sources.

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The Vegetables of Vinegar & Salt

The Ancient Romans classified vegetables by the method of preparation. The olera are the pot herbs, customarily cooked, from which we get that word often floating at the tips of our tongues, olericulture, the growing of vegetables for the kitchen. Acetaria are the vegetables the Romans consumed raw with vinegar (acetic acid), oil and salt. Interestingly, in a linguistic departure from the Romans, the modern European languages, from English to Armenian, from Spanish to Swedish, focus on the historically more valuable ingredient, the salt, in describing the preparation and use of these vegetables. Giving us salad, sallad, salade, salata, salat, ensalada, insalata &c.

John Evelyn, the 17th century English gardener and author of several books, planned a grand encyclopedic work on gardening. As the project foundered and age caught up with him, Evelyn reluctantly published parts of the work separately. Acetaria: A Discourse of Sallets (1699) is devoted to the salad; the work is a blend of scholarship, practicum and advocacy.

Unwilling to sign a loyalty pledge to Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector of England, the young Evelyn travelled through Europe, returning home with the restoration of the monarchy. Those years spent in Spain, Holland, France and the Italian states gave him a deep appreciation for the salad as the foundation of good health, and as an art form in its own right. Written in the Baroque period, the book exhibits the period's paradox of complex brevity, especially as Evelyn assumes the reader is his peer with a working knowledge of Greek and Roman authors. Much as today's young Latinos comfortably alternate between English and Spanish in conversation, Evelyn slips in Latin or Greek words and phrases on regular basis. Still, peeling aside the arcane spelling and grammar, along with the unfamiliar and oblique references, Acetaria is a book very much in line with our 21st century sensibilities and a pleasure to read.

The first section of the book details over seventy wild and domesticated plants suitable for use in a salad. Many are familiar to modern readers and are included at various times in the Ayers Creek salad mixes. The inventory is lightened by Evelyn's droll humor. For example, under sage, he notes: "In short, 'tis a plant endu'd with so many and wonderful properties, as that the assiduous use of it is said to render men immortal: we cannot therefore but allow the tender summities of the young leaves; but principally the flowers in our cold sallet; yet so as not to domineer." And his dismissive assessment of spinach as a salad ingredient still rings true: "of old, not used in sallets, and the oftener kept out the better." Even today, growers bulk up salad mixes with spinach, so cheap and easy to grow, yet a poor use of this fine green best cooked. The acrid flavor of the raw spinach must be softened by the use of cream or cheese-based concoctions akin to sauces rather than a true salad dressing.

Evelyn concludes the inventory by warning that the gathering of salad greens is no job for a fool. He disparages old rules of thumb for determining what greens are edible, and lists deadly plants that may mislead an ignorant collector. He also dismisses the prescriptive guidance of fellow Englishman, the herbalist Nicolas Culpepper, in determining when to harvest greens based on astrology, counseling instead to look at the quality of greens and "judge of their vertues by their own complexions." His punchy confidence is endearing.   

Before Karen and Frank Morton veered into the seed business, their Wild Garden salad greens were cherished by Portland restaurants. We love hearing Cathy Whims describe the careful attention the Mortons paid to preparing the ever-changing mixture of greens, every leaf perfect, delivered in a damp muslin bag. Evelyn demanded the same attention for his mixture; "let your herby ingredients be exquisitely cull'd and cleans'd of all worm-eaten, slimy, canker'd, dry, spotted or in any ways vitiated leaves." He specifies spring water for washing and, after draining, swinging them gently in a coarse napkin to draw off excess moisture.

The carefully gathered greens need the finest couture de cuisine. For oil in the dressing, he commends omphacine pressed from olives native to the Republic of Lucca, now a province of Italy and still producing superb olives. Olive oil had a range of uses and grades, including lighting and lubrication, as well as food. Omphacine is the first pressing of green olives, what we call, implausibly, "extra virgin" today. For the contrasting acid, the best wine vinegar is specified, though lemon and the tart juice squeezed from verjus grapes also meet his approval. If that special grape type is not available, the freshly squeezed juice from other small, unripe grapes will do. For salt, he favors the "brightest bay grey-salt," what is sold today as fleur de sel and sel gris. The seasonings are English mustard, preferably from Tewksberry, and pepper (black or white). The yolk of a freshly laid egg, boiled moderately hard, is allowed as desired.

He finishes up with the tools needed. These include a willow or osier basket with partitions to separate the various salad greens as they are collected so the correct proportions are used, a silver knife to trim them, and a porcelain or Delft-ware bowl for serving. The iron knife, pewter and silver bowls in use at the time would leave the salad with an unpleasant metallic flavor. In his attention to detail and proportion in preparing and presenting his salad, Evelyn has no rival even among the most fussy modern chefs and gardeners.

The latter half of Acetaria deals with seasonality and health, and what we refer to "industrial food" today. Evelyn inveighs against the flaccid vegetables raised in urban hotbeds prepared from over-rich stable muck and other filth collected from the city streets, favoring instead the healthy vegetables grown in rich humus of the countryside and hedgerows. He also disparages "forwarding," pushing the vegetable and fruit growth outside of their natural seasons and into inferior quality. He promotes the merits of a diet of vegetables. Evelyn was not a vegetarian per se; he was an ardent lover of vegetables and a southern diet, what we refer to as the Mediterranean diet. He advocated eating mostly plants, and was appalled by the slaughter methods in London's abattoirs, much in the same spirit as Michael Pollan pushes us to think about our food's origin and quality. However, he was not wantonly dogmatic, so he leaves the question of whether salad should come before or after the savory dishes convincingly explored and learnedly unresolved, as it still is more than three centuries later.    

In addition to the original 1699 edition, Acetaria has been reprinted at least four times. In 1934, the Women's Auxiliary of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden published the complete work in an edition of 1,000 copies, nicely bound with hand cut signatures. This version is available electronically on Gutenberg (www.gutenberg.org/files/15517/15517-h/15517-h.htm). Still Point Press of Dallas, Texas published a numbered edition of 1,000 on high quality French paper (1985) along with a few illustrations, bound with a leather spine. Unfortunately, this handsome edition leaves out the Greek and Latin passages and the margin notes, and the artsy illustrations have no botanical merit. A 1996 version published by Prospect Books, now in paperback (2005), retains the whole text and translates the Greek passages, a more satisfactory approach. Finally, The Grand Salad (Peacock Vane, Isle of Wight, 1984) is a book based on passages from Acetaria. Sadly, it is hard to read as it is handwritten in a calligraphic style. The work also has egregious deletions and some additional dry text that adds nothing to Evelyn's original, despite its good intentions.    

Good reading and see you all Sunday,

Carol and Anthony Boutard
Ayers Creek Farm