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Posted 9/27/2020 7:57pm by David Zemelsky.

Dear Everyone,

As I write this, I do not have permission to divulge particulars of the wedding that I would like to talk about.  A regular customer who loves Jen's flowers (for great reason) requested wedding flowers for her proposed wedding on the top of Camel's Hump Mountain (fourth highest in Vermont, 4083') this weekend.  So Jen obliged and then some.  Glorious, glorious flowers that were actually a miracle unto themselves considering that she lost a great deal of flowers to frost on both Monday and Tuesday.  Kind of like having your hands tied behind your back. 

Anyway, their concept was to climb the mountain (3.5 miles of pretty grueling uphill) and have their friend officiate for them.  As it turned out, they got up to the summit only to find that there were literally tons of people already there, making social distancing impossible.  So Mariah (that's the bride's name), being flexible went to Plan B, which was to get married by a beautiful river the next day. 

Since starting to write this letter, I've learned that it would be ok to share the pictures, which delights me and also underlines a very important thing.  Love is everything.  If you only remembered every day that "love is all you need" then so many of the terrible and haunting ills that are experienced by so many people would go away.  Sounds simple, but yet seems elusive in this divisive stage of our country's existence.  Yesterday, my sister told me that she's working on a plan to make the world a better place by suggesting that we all focus on simple, direct and helpful ways to always show love in the world.  I'm thinking about it, as I write these words.

Mariah has given me a poem by e.e. cummings to think about.  Goes something like this"

Honor the past but welcome the future
And dance your death away at your wedding…
Yours is the light by which my spirit’s born
Yours is the darkness of my souls return
You are my sun my moon and all my stars'

Yes.
You are my sun my moon and all my stars. 
You are the rope let down into my well.
in the words of Rumi, I cannot say my gratitude

 


In closing, we of Star Light are grateful to all of you for being part of what we try to do for all of you-provide real food. Stay well and take care of yourselves

 

Posted 9/14/2020 6:50am by David Zemelsky.

I belong to a men' group.  Its been about 4 or 5 years. I forget because my sense of time is terrible.  Anyway, we meet every other Tuesday evening for 2 hours.  The main purpose of the group is to really be in touch with the feelings inside of us.  Easy, you think?  Not so much for me.  But I work hard at it.  Its important for me to make sure that what's inside is known and not buried.  Its helped me in so  many ways, both professionally dealing with chefs, farm market customers and in my relationships with family and friends.  Sometimes, I see myself remaining in this group for the duration.  Who knows?  There's 10 guys and with zoom, two of us who had moved to other parts of the country can now rejoin the group.  Zoom isn't bad for what we do, but not, of course as good as seeing my guys in person.  We're an eclectic  group, but one thing that holds us together is our hearts.  Each of us is concerned, and committed to helping who ever needs supports.  And like any group of people, those needs can sometimes be great.  So the big take away here is the strong heart and strong empathy of each of them.

Ok. I mention this as a backdrop for an issue that was written about last week- people who like the President.  Here's the thing. Without going into too much detail, the President is not my President.  He is unfit for the job in my humble opinion and dangerous for the security and welfare of each of us.  His inept handling of the pandemic alone has cost lives.  I'm not going to go on, however anyone who wants to hear any more that I think on the subject and share their views, just write.  This President does not show empathy or heart when people need it the most.  And therefore, it makes me feel that people who support him may also be devoid of this features.  AND, I could be wrong. And here's where I'm getting confused.  That's why I'm sharing this feeling with you.

One or two members of my men's group are for the President.  These are good good people who care about me and every other member of our group. If I was in crisis, they'd have my back.  I know this just as strongly as I know that the moon will get bigger and the sun is going to come up tomorrow.  So on the one hand, I've got strong supportive friends.  And these same friends support a President who seems only interested in one thing-getting reelected. I'm clearly wrong therefore-people with strong loving hearts can also support someone who doesn't understand this way of living on the earth.  I am left with the gnawing question-how do these two opposite values comfortably exist in my men's group friends?  Last week, I invited anyone to help me understand any of the attraction for him (the President).  I heard from no one.  But being a bit relentless,  this week is a follow up on the same question-why him?  I really want to know.  Granted, my needs are pretty irrelevant in the scope of things but a constructive conversation between people who disagree will only make the world a better place.

Even though the leaves have barely begun to turn, we're already into Winter mode here at Star Light.  Actually, its been that way since July, when we planted all the carrots and some other root crops that we're going to be offering to you in December.  Joel's planting lots of spinach, and that is something that we'll be able to offer in a few more weeks (maybe 3).

And having gotten you thinking about Fall, the tomatoes are still at full flavor.  Remember the dehydrator?  Now, there are many dried tomatoes that we'll be offering to you once the fresh ones are gone.  Dried tomatoes have been voted by the Tomato Council of New England Growers (I just made that up) as the number one Christmas present for 2020.  And this year, they're going to be packaged handsomely with original art.  Can't wait to show you the label!

Lastly, the usual reminders.  Pre-orders are only completed when you get an email confirmation.  Try again, if you don't get the email.  CSA still remains the best way to get our food at the best price.  We'll be honouring your balance right into next year, so sign up and save (sounds like a slogan, right?)

Be safe as you go about your days.Namaste.

 

Posted 9/7/2020 6:16am by David Zemelsky.

Dear Friends

Everything that's on my mind sooner or later swings back to opportunity, equity and racism.  Everything.  And it also gets in my way sometime.  While I know that I'm not personally responsible for the haves and have nots in this world, it doesn't mean that I don't forget the fact that White Privilege  is real and my own position in the world was partially determined by that.

And that is why I thought we should talk about Nutrition (with a capitol "N") and the devastating effects that the lack of Nutrition plays out for those of us who do not have the access they should have for good food.  It should seriously be noted that my knowledge of nutrition is not very deep.  But I do know two very important things.  One, that the vast percentage  of people that have been hospitalized for Covid-19 were suffering a comorbidity disease previously.  Hypertension, obesity diabetes, morbid obesity, coronary artery disease and asthma being most common.  (Based on a group of 5700 people in the New York Area).  Two, that people of color, statistically are much more likely to suffer from these ailments compared to White people. And in looking just one step deeper into this fact, it is not the color of the skin that is significant but the economic opportunities and access to good food that determines the health aspects of either race. And clearly, people of color's access to economic opportunities is much more apt to be restrictive compared to white people.  I think, we all know that.

Simply stated, because many more People of Color (POC) do not have the economic stretch of White People, their diets are found to be heavy on less epensive empty calories versus important vegetables, fruit and protein that are often either too expensive or inaccessible (food apartied) to these folks.  This directly leads to many of the conditions listed above. And, of course, POC who have an economic disadvantage do not own these disorders by themselves.  Many White People suffer them, too.  But we're talking the much higher occurrence proportionally to the overall population.  Meaning, because POC are often behind the White population in income, they are more limited in being able to get good nutritious food.  And that's all about race, equality and making the playing field level (which it isn't).

What to do about it?  Oy, if I only knew.  For my part, I'm hoping to convince anyone I see to the ideas above.  Star Light consistently gives money to the CT Food Bank and donates food to the St. Vincent Food Kitchen.  But most importantly, we need to have the right people in elected positions who know, understand and feel empathy for those of us who have less and are willing to fight for the interest of POC as fiercely as if it was their own children who are lacking basic good foods. My own conviction is that the present President is lacking in all those qualities. He is only concerned about his own interest.   The recent article in the Atlantic which tells how the President can not understand the sacrifice of the fallen soldiers should  get the point across.  "They're all losers" I'm reasonably sure that the majority of the people on our mailing list feels similarly.  Selfishly, I'd love to hear from any of you who supports the present Administration and try to understand your reasons.  This is something that I've wanted to hear for a while.  Around the Thanksgiving Family table, it is easy for me to visualize family members coming to emotional blows.  That wouldn't happen with me (I hope!).  I'd just listen and then finally, I might begin to understand people's support for the present Administration, cause I really don't understand.

Meanwhile, please remember to get absentee ballots, if you're going in that direction.  Also, there are countless postcard drives that are designed to help get out the vote.  If you don't know where to find one, ask me and I'll help get you connected to the right people.

Moving on...

With the cooler weather will be coming pea tendrils.   Cooler weather gives us more sturdy and flavorful greens, particularly lettuces.  Check out the mixed greens and the lettuce heads.

One whole hoophouse is now emptied of tomato plants with the aim towards a quick crop of greens before our winter planting.  There are still a strong strong quality and quanity of the tomatoes, but its important to note that we're looking at our end, rather than our beginning.  You won't be able to eat a fresh Striped German Tomato in February!

There won't be cherry tomatoes in the store this week, but there are ways to get them, still.  We encourage those of you who are picking up at the shed to let us know that you might want cherry tomatoes and we'll do our best to make it happen for you.

CSA has been so strong and important for us this season.  Your balance is good so don't feel like you have to spend all your money before the season ends.  We'll be able to keep rolling over your balance for as long as you want. Remember that we're a Four Season Farm and will have fresh greens, spinach, roots and other things anytime this Winter. CSA is great for Star Light and for you.  You get a decent amount of our food for a great price and Star Light gets cash when we need it most (all the time!) and a hopefully loyal tribe of excited food eaters that are looking for optimum nutrition, freshness and great taste. Is there anything better?

Lastly, this week we had 5 or 6 people who ordered and paid for their food just not show up.  When you order, note the day and earliest pick up time so that you won't forget.

Thank you for reading this.  It is a privilege for me to be able to write to you every week.

Namaste,

 

Posted 8/31/2020 6:50am by David Zemelsky.

I want all of you to know that what I say or think isn't any more important then anyone else's thoughts.  Writing to you each week help me know and clarify things that I'm thinking about.  If by chance, what gets said hits a chord with you and helps you to examine or reexamine what's on your mind-then that is a very wonderful thing.

And ( and this is a very big "and"), my note last week quite unintentionally , but none the less thoughtlessly was not respectful of the heart of someone of color who read it.  After reading it, she sent a note expressing her disapproval  of what was written and then unsubscribed. Her reasons are sound and therefore  find myself wanting to share them with you so that you too might understand why she was so angered by my note. You can find last weeks letter at starlightgardensct.com in case you might have deleted the note already. It should be the next addition below what gets written for this week

This world of white people learning how to appropriately write, talk and feel about race becomes a school in itself.  White folks, such as myself, can and will make mistakes.  This is not good, especially when the mistake causes anger from a person of color.  It happened this week. I am committed to learning everything I possibly can to insure that this won't be repeated.

I hope that an open letter to her here would both underline some very important  considerations when talking about things regarding race that you, the reader would be able to see.  And perhaps, though not that likely, a friend of her's might see my note and in that way, she'd be able to see that her letter has helped create some change in another human being.

So below is the letter to her.

Dear Y___,

Above all else, my intentions were to help in any way to make the world a better place.  And, this letter for you did not in any shape or form do that for you. For that I am very sorry.  Since getting your note, I've put knowing, understanding your anger as a top priority.  Below is my takeaway.

First off, the use of the term "negro" is no longer used in any form any where without it being offensive. Although, I thought it was still a term used to describe that genre of music, I was mistaken.

Most importantly,and humbly I have come to realize that it is impossible for someone of my background (white, male) to, in any shape or form be able to walk in "someone else's shoes" and specifically I'm referring to the character in Toni Morrison's "Beloved" who chose to murder her baby rather than have it subjected to slavery.  No white person will ever understand or feel the way that person felt.  There are just some feelings that a white person (myself), no matter how empathetic they might be will ever be able to feel.  Is very clear that after 400 plus years of oppression, African-American people will need to say "enough" to white folks claiming "they get it".

Sadly, last weeks letter has ended our relationship, but it still gave me knowledge of how to think or write about horrific events around racism in my future.  Although, I know you aren't looking for any gratitude, it still remains that learning about my mistake will help me for the future. 

With that in mind, it is with gratitude that you took a moment to help me see something so much clearer.  Thank you.

Please stay safe,

David

And to change subjects completely: At the farm this week, we are basically in full glory.  Lettuce, which we grow successfully all Summer, inspite of the heat, has now become a high point for our salad mix. Lettuce heads,too.  Tomatoes are so magnificent that it has become impossible to find the exact perfect word to describe them.  I will say that it is possible that they will sweep you off your feet. 

There's more-much more choices.  Check out the store for the complete list. Please remember the deadlines for ordering.  Its clearly marked at the checkout.  I will remind everyone that orders are ready for pick up after 2pm on Wednesday and Friday. Saturday is different-its after 3pm.  The reason being that we're getting some special items for you at the Cityseed/New Haven market and won't be back from there soon enough to be ready by 2pm.

Please have a safe and wonderful week.  And thank you for listening to my own thoughts, as we all make our way thru this challenging world.

 

Posted 8/30/2020 11:22am by David Zemelsky.

I was seriously called to task by one of my kids (the youngest, by the way) this week on naming the new dehydrator "Bertha".  She was totally right, of course.  The connotation of the name is about big, as in big and round, as in fat.  We can't with a good open heart go around making fun of something because of its size and likewise for people.  Therefore, in honor of Kamela Harris and the proposterous and erroneous  supposition made by the President that she's not a US citizen- lets indeed call the new machine "Berther".  I like it.  By the way, the attempt to discredit Senator Harris for me indicates how full of panic the President and his election team are at this  point. Its a grasp at straws, and a weak one at that.  I think that only effective Russian interference in the election will safe his presidency.  Anyone disagree? Love to hear from you.

Like a lot of white people, the past few months has been like going to school for me.  I read books, watch videos (James Baldwin debating William Buckley. Look it up on Youtube.) and have long conversations with anyone who'll listen to me.  I'm sure, in some way, its got to be laughable, such ardent attempts at getting somewhere about Anti Racism because there's so many of these well wishing White folks doing this.  Honestly, I thought that I was as aware as a person could be.  But something happened that humbled me and helped me to realize that my work on racism has far far to go. Far.  I was listening to spirituals and suddenly the world felt like it cracked open.  These songs were about how much better and glorious it was going to be when they died.  So right in my face.  Consider; "when the saints come marching in. oh lord i want to be in that number."  And "and when the new world is revealed"  and also "if you get to heaven before i do, (coming for to carry me home). Tell all my friends that I'm a coming to.  (Coming for to carry me home)" And then back to the Saints."Some say this world of sorrow is the only world we need, but we'll all be reunited on a new and sunlit shore". 

It's all about death. And oh how I missed that message for decades.  And that missing of clear facts that are right in front of me is exactly the important message.  See it, hear it and make sense of it.   The world of slavery, they're saying, is so beyond being able to be endured, that death is the best alternative.  For those of you who've read "Beloved" by Toni Morrison and read in horror , realizing that the mother loved her baby so much that she'd rather kill her than subject her to the utter misery and terror of being owned by another.  I can only imagine as best I can what she was so desperately feeling.  Its hard, but I'm trying to walk in her shoes.  And that's about empathy, when something utterly unexceptable happens not just to the person but to all of us.

On the farm, I'd like to say that if you haven't had any heirlooms yet, please consider buying them now and in the next few weeks.  Its not like we're going to run out, but clearly I can see that the tomato engine has reached its highest output and we'll be seeing less from here on out.  Again, we're not done, but you'll have a hard time eating our heirloom tomatoes in February. (Unless you get some of our sun dried.  We won't be selling them till much later).

Another great item to consider this week is our mixed field greens.  With the cooler nighttime temperatures, the lettuce is thriving and extremely sweet.

Farmer's Markets have been just wonderful.  I can tell that people are socializing as best they can and trying to abide by the social distancing rules.  Durham Market is such a beautiful place to go.  While it use to be surrounded by mature sugar maples, not there are younger trees that will promise shade for the next generation.  OK. Durham on Thursday 3-6:30/Madison Friday 3-  6 and Cityseed-New Haven (Cityseed.org) Saturday 9AM-1PM.

And to be frankly a little boring, will remind you that when you put in an order, we only will see it if you get a confirmation email back.

Pre Orders get picked up on Wednesday and Friday after 2pm and after 3pm on Saturday.

We Star Lighters appreciate each and every one of you for thinking of us as an important way for you to get real food.  Thank you.

Namaste,

David

Posted 8/16/2020 8:25pm by David Zemelsky.

I hope that you felt today's rain as such a welcome, today.  Its been so long that its been so dry.  And for those of you upset about their dried up lawns (not me), perhaps this rain could be seen as a sorely welcomed guest.  I've got more to say about water, later.

This week, I went up to the land of camouflage to buy a very large dehydrator.  The land of camouflage would be Cabela's.  This store is way out of my comfort range in so many ways.  For one thing, they have statues of "game" everywhere.  Perhaps, they are motivating customers to buy guns, so that they can have their own tiger, moose, elephant, and lone wolves stuffed and mounted in their own house.  I don't really know for sure.  They are well done replicas.  I'll give them that.   The camouflage section, which is as big as 3 tennis courts has so many ways to make yourself disappear.  There are hats, shirts, pants, underwear, socks, rifle holders,knapsacks, baby clothes, baby carriers to name a few.  It all hits home to me-these aren't my people.  Where are the enthusiastic heirloom tomato lovers, the person looking for that bunch of kale that is so big that one might mistake it for a bouquet.  Or how about just a plain beautiful flower bouquet?  Where are the people wanting good wholesome food?  Well, for sure, and to be fair, maybe some of those people might be inclined to buy local vegetables.  Its just that the whole place is just so so Trumpy.  This might be unfair to say, but am pretty sure that its accurate that the majority of the customers are Trump supporters.  Some of you will readily agree with this and others of you might be offended.  My hope is that if you feel something, write back.  I'd be very happy to engage in a conversation with you.

Ok. So back to Bertha.  This dehydrator is higher than my mid section.  Its big.  Hence, the name Bertha.  Bertha, by the way has two meanings.  There's a golf club that's called a "Big Bertha" and there was also a major tank that the German Army used in WW2.  I just took one look at it and knew its name was "Bertha".  Not to be confused with "Berther", a phrase that the President has started using to convince voters that Kamela Harris isn't a US citizen.  I''m sorry that I keep swinging back to politics.  I'd be inclined to say that I can't help it, but that really wouldn't be true.  Where I think I'm going is that any where that you turn, there's a political slant these days.

Moving on.

Yesterday, I sliced up "seconds".  These are heirlooms that are wonderful and delicious, but aren't so pretty.  They might have one bad spot on it, for example.  After slicing them, the tomatoes are spread out on the trays that go with Bertha.  After putting trays and trays in Bertha's front, I turned the machine on.  In the morning, there were amazing sun-dried tomatoes (well, not really sun-dried, but we're calling them that).

Top photo is Bertha before being extracted from the box.  The beautiful looking tomatoes in the second photo,where from our first batch!

Before going on, a quick and probably a repetitive reminder: If you're pre order does not send you back an email, then its not yet an order.  Try again.  If that doesn't work, call.  For the most part, our system works.  I believe in it.

This week in the store, there's an opportunity to show support for undocumented immigrants by donating $5 to ULA (Unitad Latina en Acción). ULA mission is to help the undocumented where ever they can.  As we all know, many of the undocumented are doing essential jobs to help keep our system going but have not benefited from the relief that the government has been providing to US citizens.  For every dollar that you donate, Star Light will match, dollar for dollar.  Please consider.  If you are a CSA member and wish to contribute, simply make two orders and utilize the paypal/credit card way of buying things. In otherwords, we aren't able to use some of your CSA balance to make a donation.

I am going to leave you with some thoughts on water.  Specifically the colonization of water.  I see water being treated (no pun intended) like all precious things in this world-the upper class  gets the very best.  Its a situation throughout the world.  But we only have to go as far as Flint, MI.  Many of you already know this, but will quickly review for those that don't  In order to save money, the city of Flint began using water from the Flint River for the public water supply.  Immediately, people started noticing dark, brown water coming out of the tap.  Officials lied about what was going on.  Many went to jail, actually.  They failed to add corrosion inhibitors to the water which caused a release of lead from antiquated pipes in the municipal system, exposing over 100,000 residents (mostly people of color) to an unhealthy level of lead.  I'm sure they wouldn't try that in Greenwich.

I hope that you all have a great week.  Please remember to pay close attention to what is going on.  Our collective welfare depends on all of us watching out for each other.

 

Posted 8/2/2020 6:33pm by David Zemelsky.

We need to start with tomatoes.  As you know, we've been starting, planting, grafting, pruning and loving tomatoes since January 10th (or so). For the past month, there's been a slowly emerging harvest that has gotten bigger every week.  There's been a lot of disappointment for people when we've run out.  That's probably not going to happen for a while.  The "Tomato Waterfall"  arrived suddenly on Friday between 11AM and 5PM.  Tomato Waterfall simply means that a tremendous supply of tomatoes has gotten ripe and will hopefully remain that way for several weeks.  That's a 6 month wait.  But, like anything wonderful that you can think of, its worth the wait. Totally.

I'll start with the cherry tomatoes.  The Sun Golds are bright orange and as sweet as a teaspoon of sugar.  Unless you don't like sweet, these are for you.  Then there's Black Cherry, which are multi flavored.  Savory in some ways.  When people ask the difference between Sun Golds and Black Cherry, my response is that SG's are simple and sweet like grammar school and BC's are complex and multilayered like graduate school.  Both are exquisite.  Then there's Juliet, a small plum shaped tomato that is so versatile.  A great salad enhancer and also great to cook with.  The Artisan Group is multi colored and multi flavored.  I love them and will leave it at that.

Heirlooms.  One has to have the patience of a good parent with heirloom tomato plants.  They grow and put out vegetation any way they feel like it.  My goal is to prune them to two main branches that will help create large, beautiful and delicious fruit.  The plant, however, will do everything in its power to "branch out".  Sometimes, there'll be a load of tomatoes that will, almost as a second thought, put out a stem with more blossoms.  I'll cut these back for the most part and coax the plant into concentrating on the real estate that I've carved out for them.  Pruning has been almost my soul activity on the farm for a few months.  I'll disappear down a row and go on to the next and the next.  When I've been through all the houses, its already time to start at the beginning again and prune again.  The tomato plants gets real busy putting out more and more blossoms.  This is how it preserve itself for posterity-make a lot of fruit and seeds for the years ahead.  The plant is both in the present and the future at the same time.  Very wonderful.

About the taste experience of having an heirloom.  A good heirloom is one of the most intense and wonderful taste experiences you'll ever have. Ever.  One has to be slow, deliberate and mindful to maximize your ability to appreciate what you've got.  Here's what I do.  The core can often be green and tough, so I'll carefully remove it and feed it to Maria (dog, number 1. Big 60 lb omnivore).  Then I'll slice the remaining tomato into bite sized chunks.  For me the bottom with its tender, sweet skin is the best  part.  Kind of like the heart of an artichoke.  These go on your favorite plate.  Two different things can happen here.  One, get the coarse Kosher salt and sprinkle it on everywhere-then enjoy.  The second thing would be that it gets my own brand of salad dressing after the salt.  Either way, its one of Summer's top delights.  Salad making recipe available upon request.  Hint: get some of our garic.

Like our carrots, if you don't jump up in the air with total delight upon trying these, let me know and I'll give you free ones next week.  Its not going to happen.

Sun Golds in all their glory!

As it looks on 8/2/20 in the hoop house.  These plants are at least 10 feet tall!

This picture should give you a good idea about the color and vibrance of our tomatoes.  Note that 2 or 3 have splits.  These are actually the best tasting right now.

Switching gears lets look at "Heat Islands".  I want to start by making reference to a particularly inaccurate letter that appeared in the Town Times this past Friday.  The writer stated that environmental issues and racism were two separate issues.  One has nothing to do with the other.  Oh, my goodness, where to start!  The fact is that cities are going to be much hotter than surrounding suburban areas.  Tree canopy, and heat retaining cement are two obvious differences.  There's just much more cement and less trees in cities.  People of color with low incomes often find themselves in situations that are even worse for heat-hence the term "heat island".  Because of economic differences, these low income folks find themselves living in areas with even less green spaces and even more cement.  The difference in temperature in a city can vary as much as 12 degrees.  The extra heat will have a profoundly negative effect on people living in these circumstances.  Air quality is just one of the things that are much worse when the temperature is elevated.  More people die from heat factors than hurricanes, tornadoes or floods.  This is one of many ways that Racism and climate change are intertwined.

Red lining can be traced to the origin of all this.  By denying African Americans access to the same lending system that Whites have enjoyed for decades, entrenched areas of almost every major city shows that the heat islands are located in the areas that were originally redlined.  Portland , Oregon for example shows a 12 degree difference between redline and non-redline neighborhoods.

The study referenced above was conducted by Portland State University and the Science Museum of Virginia. They conclude their study by saying, “By recognizing and centering the historical blunders of the planning profession over the past century, we stand a better chance for reducing the public health and infrastructure impacts from a warming planet.”

When and if your town begins to figure out ways to make housing equitable for all people, I hope that you'll remember this concept and help figure out ways for there to be equity in our world.  Justice for all, not "just us."

Please stay safe.  Remember that if you don't get an email confirmation, we can't see your order.  Try ordering again.  If that doesn't work, give a call.

Think "Tomato Waterfall"!

Namaste,

 

Posted 7/19/2020 8:35pm by David Zemelsky.

Who doesn't like the Dixie Chicks?  A lot of angry people, that's who.  People who felt betrayed by  them expressing their opinion of  then President George W. and his handling of the war in Iraq.  Remember?  Images in the media of people burning, stomping on and rolling over with a steam roller, countless of their cds.  The Dixie Chicks were well hated for a long time.  And many of those fans are never coming back.  I support their decision to speak up for what they believed in, even if it meant a loss of fan base.  Their actions say clearly to me that there are just too many other important things in life to worry about consequences.  There have been so many times in my life when I choose silence because it seemed the easiest thing to do at the time.  As time goes on, I want to make sure that silence as a means to avoid conflict is not part of my vocabulary.  John Lewis throughout his brave and productive life never backed down or remained silent in the face of his adversaries.  I'm sure that the Dixie Chicks drew a lot of inspiration from his example. 

Which leads me to their shorten new name,"The Chicks".  I never gave the "Dixie" part of their name a second thought.  That fact is a good example of how racism crept into my life there and probably in a whole lot of other places.  With their new album, after over 14 years, they've renewed their dedication to being brave,bold, confident women who are going to speak their truth no matter what. Its a welcomed sight for me.  They sound great, too.

Joel, Jen and I would like to thank all of you for many things, but right now specifically for your diligence in wearing mask when coming to the shed and the market.   The mask is your way of protecting fellow citizens from the possibility of you spreading the virus.  So when you see someone with a mask on, they're helping you.  Those without mask don't believe the science in front of them.  They very well might be the same people who ride motorcycles without helmets. Wonder if that's true?  I've never understand the  wisdom of going helmet-less.  Do you?

In the meantime, we're seeing more and more tomatoes, but still not that waterfall that we look for.  Its coming.  There are so many green heirlooms!  We'll be offering them, hopefully in the shed this weekin prepriced containers for at least the Wednesday pre order.  Maybe more for Friday and Saturday.  Its just hard to predict. As for the cherries and juliets, if they're sold out at the time you order, please try back later because we're trying hard to make sure that all our venues, both the shed and farmer's markets are going to have tomatoes.  If you have to make two orders for the same day, that's not a problem.

I know that we're all having a difficult time with this pandemic.  And there are so many people who are not helping by not social distancing and using a mask around other people.  Please remember that we will get thru this and when we do, there is more and very essential work that still remains to be done.  The planet is still in need of critical new ways for it to be taken care of.  Let's not forget that post pandemic is not post-do nothing

I hope that you enjoy our food this week.  Good and real food helps everything about your life.  Everything.

Lastly, thank you one and all for allowing Star Light to be part of your life.  When you order, look for your email confirmation.  If you don't get it, try again.  And , of course, you're welcome to call us to help figure things out.  Generally, the system works without a hitch.

Have a great, safe, and peaceful week

 

Posted 7/12/2020 9:16pm by David Zemelsky.

I've been thinking a lot about priorities in our government, specifically by the President. I don't think it will come as a surprise to any of you-he's not my President.  Probably, I'm going too far to say that, but its "my truth", as is popular to say.  So here we are in a world pandemic that all 50 Governors find themselves figuring out  solutions on their own.  George Floyd, to name just one African American has been murdered publicly. And, and... look not going to go on.  You're either seeing the smoke and fire or you're not.  And the President chooses this moment to do what? Comfort and assure us that we're doing everything that we can to turn things around?  Nope.  He's more concerned that people are destroying our heritage (a popular phrase from those who celebrate The Lost Cause), by taking down monuments.  Humbly, I say-this is crazy.  Not all history is worth memorializing.  I would argue that revering and honoring traitors to the Union does not fall in that category. Period.  Our  memorials  should help us remember important values and deeds that help further the cause of our American ideals, which on paper often look pretty good.  Its the execution that is questionable.  Further, there needs to be a deep empathy for people who had ancestors that were kept as slaves.  Its trauma, pure and simple and every time that any of us (and particularly people of African American descent) are exposed to symbols of  slavery , it becomes a retraumatization of them.  Is that more important that acknowledging ones "heritage"?  If having a slave owner was part of my family tree, I'd  come to terms with this knowledge.  And yes, it would be profoundly difficult for me. But never would it take the form of needing some traitorous general on a horse to keep my heritage.  Lastly, lets remember that we want to uphold values, not history as a priority.  And the values of those memorialized in Confederate statues are not those values that we want to uphold. Period.

 

Moving on...

I want to tell you about hornworms.  Hornworms love to eat tomato leaves especially the young tender ones at the top of the plant.  In very short order they can go thru a hoop house and strip it bare of the potential for fruit for weeks ahead.  From a growers prospective, they are disgusting, filthy (their poops are almost impossible to describe, so I won't) and should all be killed.  So that leads me to two things.  The first is how a gentle, older teenager (she's now in her thirties) who was working for us, became an avid killer of hornworms and almost unrecognizable to her employer (me).  Not sure if she was a vegetarian at the time, but totally a gentle soul to say the least.  Earlier in the week, I explained to her what to look for to find the presence of hornworms. Hornworms can blend into the scenery quite well, as they are the same color as the tomato plant.  A good tip off, I told her was to note the gross poops on the ground of the hoophouse and then start scouting upwards towards the very end of the plant and see if anything can be detected.  Well, one day, she  must have discovered many of them because as I rounded a corner, there she was with a plastic bat. Bam! Bam!, just making a real massacre out of them  For a moment, I was honesty worried that I'd  helped bring out in her murderous tendencies that I'd never seen before.  Honestly, it was scary.  Not unlike if you saw Mr. Rogers yelling at the top of his lungs.  Many years have now gone by and I usually will see my former employee when she comes home to visit her folks.  We talk about this incident once in a while.  She's home now and I had a good reason to re-look at this event with her.  But first, a very quick look at the natural predator of hornworms-parasitic  wasps.  The wasp finds the hornworm and lays eggs inside it. The newly hatched eggs will eat their way out of the hornworm, which will cause its demise.  Very cool.  Ok. So Joel has noticed that our wasp population seems to be growing every year and suggested us to not kill the hornworm, but rather allow them to be found by the wasp, which in turn will increase their (the wasps) population.  Very clever and makes sense and best of all, I won't have to worry about turning mild mannered farmhands into stark raving murderers (of hornworms, that is).

There's been tomato offerings for a few weeks, but the real festival is still in front of us.  There'll be so many wonderful choices.  We've been working really hard on pruning and nurturing our plants.  Recently, Jen sprayed all of them with a fish/seaweed mix to help stimulate their growth and also enhance the flavor.   This spray gets absorbed thru the leaf system and from there travels to the fruit to add its goodness.  You're going to have a good time!

Store opens at 8AM Monday.  Items that are sold out could become available later in the week, so check up .  We'll be at Durham Market on Thursday 3-6:30pm, Madison on Friday 3-6 and Cityseed in New Haven on Saturday from 9AM to 1PM.  And you can preorder any of those days and have your order ready at the market.  We're pre ordering out of our shed on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

I wish all of you a very safe week. Stay smart.

David

 

 

Posted 7/5/2020 8:55pm by David Zemelsky.

Someone wrote (in a very friendly manner), that she'd like it better if I stuck to writing about vegetables and kept the politics out of my notes.  I wrote back that I appreciated her position and yet could not figure out a way to not say something about what's going on in the world specifically in regards to racism.  I just care too much to not say anything.  My note back to her  also became an invitation for further back and forth dialogue.  Hope she takes me up on the offer because an exchange of view point between people could lead to change (on both our parts).

Someone else shared a regret from their childhood experience at overnight camp whereby the writer found herself agreeing with a bunkmate that: "wasn't it too bad that we're going to have someone with dark skin spoiling our great group."  She wished that she had spoke up because she felt positive about this African American bunkmate, but said nothing to support that viewpoint.  How many times have any of us just been quiet when a racist or sexist comment has been made? God, I hate the thought of being silent.  And yet, we all know that from an early age, African American children are taught to keep their bodies and their language quiet when being confronted by the police.  That's a trauma that could last a lifetime.  I don't even have a clue what that's like.

A reading suggestion: Ta-Nehisi Coates article in the Atlantic about reparations.  https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/

We're back to our regular schedule this week.  Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at the Farm pickup . Durham Farmer's Market on Thursday, Madison Market on Friday and Cityseed in New Haven on Saturday.  A reminder (again!): if after placing your order, you don't get a note of confirmation, then its not yet an order.  Try again.  If that still doesn't work, give us a call.  We'll fix you up.

Right now, as we speak, there are tons of GREEN heirloom tomatoes on the vine in four hoophouses.  Its not going to be too much longer.  Stay tuned for our thoughts on how we'll be selling them on preorders.  One of the things that has taken up the majority of my work time is pruning these plants.  Many people don't prune, but those that do are rewarded with more beautiful and better tasting toms (henceforth, we'll refer to tomatoes as "toms"). Additionally, a pruned plant has the best chance of staying healthy longer.  The truth is that sooner or later, tomato plants will catch one disease or another.  The longer we can postpone that, the better our production is.  The other cool thing that we do to our plants is spray them with a fish/seaweed spray.  This process helps get the best possible nutrients into the fruit.  Can't wait to taste them.  The woodchucks are probably saying the same thing!

Good eating for all of you this week.  I'm hoping that you get everything that you want.  I know that some things sell our very quickly.  I promise you that once the tomatoes start flowing, you won't have a problem with supply. (Famous last words!)