From GINA COVINA
Laughing Frog Farm
We made our first trip to the Mendocino Farmers Market last week, with a new crop of onions, beautiful carrots, the first Dark Star zucchinis and Asian cucumbers, and an assortment of greens. Not a huge amount of vegetables, but I’m amazed we have anything, what with this year’s bumper crop of plant-eating insects, industrious gophers, and a gang of feral peafowl that removed most of the sweet pepper plants from inside the hoop house.
I’ve had to eat pesto constantly (darn, my favorite) since the basil was too cosmetically challenged to go to market after the cucumber beetles got to it. I’ve held off on using even organically-approved insecticides like Neem oil because so many frogs live in the vegetables. Instead we pinch any beetles we can catch and drop their squashed bodies onto the leaves like tiny narcomantas to the beetles. The plants have just about outgrown the insect damage by now, and the dog did a good job of scaring away the pea hens when we finally caught them in the act. The cats are eating gophers, but the supply is endless and so far we see no decline in the frequency at which vegetable plants are dragged down into the earth.
By the way, as a customer at another farmers market recently I talked with a purveyor of chicken meat — finally, a local couple raising chickens on pasture and doing the slaughter and processing themselves at their home facility — what a lot of legal hurdles they jumped through to be able to provide this commercially scarce product that is a world away from supermarket chicken. Just how different is it? She mentioned that they had an eager market for all the parts of the birds they don’t use — feathers, feet, heads, guts, all go to a company that pulverizes, cooks and dries the offal down to a powder — which is then sold to Foster Farms for use as chicken feed.