CSA Newsletter #1

Welcome to the first week of the CSA season.  Thanks for your patience, as we’ve been working hard to catch up from the spring deluge.  It’s hard to believe that we’re back to hoping for rain!

We have a bunch of veggies in the ground and are planting new seeds and seedlings each day.  In fact we just seeded several rows of beets, turnips and carrots, which should be ready for harvest in mid August.  We’re already making plans to start seedlings for the fall harvest.  We intend to compensate in the summer and fall for what didn’t succeed in the spring rains.

We sure do appreciate that you have joined our CSA.  This spring is a testament to the definition of Community Supported Agriculture.  We couldn’t have made it through all the rains without your support!

White Bean and Garlic Scape Dip
1/3 cup sliced garlic scapes
1 T lemon juice, or more to taste
1/2 tsp sea salt
ground black pepper
1 can (15 oz) cannelloni beans, rinsed & drained
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling

In food processor, process garlic scapes with lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper until finely chopped.  Add beans and process to a rough puree.

Slowly drizzle in olive oil and process until fairly smooth.  Pulse in 2 or 3 tablespoons of water, or more, until mixture is the consistency of a dip.  Add more sea salt, black pepper or lemon juice if desired.

Spread out dip onto a plate, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with more salt.

New York Times, Dining & Wine section, June 2008

On the Menu

We’re starting off slow this year due to the inclement spring rains and blasts of 90 degree days –  but have patience, things will pick up!
This week you can expect to find in your share:
Swiss Chard, Salad mix, lettuce heads, kale, and garlic scapes.
The “On the Menu” list isn’t set in stone, we just put it out there to give you an idea of what may come.  As with all CSAs, it’s good to be flexible and adventurous in your eating!

Growing the Farm

Many of you long-time supporters will recognize that our newsletter has grown significantly from last year. The impetus for it was mainly this section. It has been a high-speed roller coaster ride for us over the past three years.
Heath and Dave have both called it quits. Both found jobs to provide economic peace of mind while they begin to raise their families. We are grateful to them for their commitment to this farm – it is as rare to meet a Mt. Everest climber as a 30 year old who saved an organic farm! They will always have a welcome place at our hearth.
And as significant changes continue to brew here at the Meadows – this section will be filled with positive information and affirmations about our growth plan – from a milking cow, to rain harvesting, to soil building.
We feel that sharing these ideas and projects with you will build a stronger bond in our Family of customers. Our responsibility as a business is to remain profitable – while providing a reliable source of clean, healthy, delicious fresh food for you – for generations to come.
Even more than food, we have the opportunity to share information, techniques, trials, and in our opinion, the adventure of becoming sustainable! Our farm exists because of you, our community, our Family. Our relationship is symbiotic. So we are opening the doors to our farm a little wider – hoping to build stronger bonds of trust, of partnership and of friendship with you all.

Current Projects

Last Summer, we wrote and submitted a $20k grant to the Sprout Fund to initialize the Heritage Seed and Nursery Collective. Our goal is to collect and grow the rarest, most endangered foods from our
bioregion to promote seed saving and community food nurseries.
The logistics are simple, we make money to support community food nurseries by selling live plants.  Our support includes connecting the community organizations with the educational programs of Seed Savers Exchange and installing seed bank and propagation facilities.
We hired Fireman Creative to design three things: the seed packets and the informational card template and our website/brochure – which are turning out to be beautiful works of art! The Third Termite Press in South Oakland is printing our packets on her letterpress.
Slow Food’s Ark of Taste inspired our initial seed bank varieties, all of high culinary value, but rare and endangered! Next year we plan to add the ancient varieties from Sylvania Natives! As we grow, so will the trees, the seed bank and the impact!
We are in the midst of an exciting fundraising campaign at Kickstarter to raise $10,000 for the project – coming into the home stretch with $5,679 in donations and 11 days remain!!
Visit us in person at our Farmers Markets, or online at HeritageSeeds.org to follow the project and join the Collective!

Animals on the Farm

Fresh, organic, pasture-raised chicken available this weekend, at the farm!

We are processing our first batch of chickens this weekend and will have fresh chickens available for purchase in the barn on Sunday, the 26th, from 4-6PM. We have limited numbers, so please pre-order yours at: info@blackberrymeadows.com.
We are excited to announce that all of our poultry are now fed certified organic grain. Our meat chickens live in unique, bottomless field shelters which are moved three times daily to fresh grass. These shelters allow the birds access to all of the fresh air, sunshine, green grass and juicy bugs their little hearts desire, while still protecting them from extreme weather and predators.
We proudly process all of our poultry right here, on the farm. We strive to give our animals happy, calm and stress-free lives and that continues right until their last moments. During processing, we work quickly and smoothly to minimize stress at all times. If you are at all interested, we invite you to come and observe this process. I guarantee you will gain a deeper appreciation for the food you put into your body. The door to our farming operation is always open, and that includes processing day.

Food System News

The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture has launched a great tool to promote restaurants and chefs that are passionate for local flavors. Google “PASA Passport” to tap into about $50 in savings to you and donations to PASA during the month of June. Bon Appetit!

There’s a few items of note – so be sure not to skip over this section!  Wednesday, June 22nd is the first pick-up for the Farm Share members (Basic, Plus and Odd), and for the Share Members that are picking up at Phipps Farm Market too.  Saturday, June 25th is the first pick-up day for the Summerset and Boyd Center Share Members.  Even Share members will pick up at the barn on June 29th.
The barn is open on Wednesdays from 11 am – 7 pm.  If you think you might be running late – just give us a call (724 226 3939).  The Phipps Market/CSA runs on Wednesdays from 2:30 pm – 6:30 pm, on Saturdays from 9 am – 11 am we’ll be at the Boyd Center, and at the Summerset at the Frick Community Center from 2pm – 4 pm.

Be sure to bring your own bags.

For the folks who have signed up for a 1/2 share – we have sent you postcard indicating whether you will start on the first week (odd) or the second week (even) of the CSA distribution.  Please email me if you don’t know which week you’ll pick up.
Please remember to check in when you show up to pick up your share.  If you’re new to our CSA, we’ll gladly give you the run-down on the operation and answer any questions you may have.

We’ve started a few new collaborations this year with some folks.  Our friends at Wild Purveyors have started a Cheese and/or Mushroom CSA.  If you think you’d like to receive a variety of local PA cheeses and/or specialty mushrooms every month, be sure to let us know.  Orders for cheese must be placed (soon!) by June 24th, to receive cheeses or mushrooms starting in July through November .  Checks should be made payable to Blackberry Meadows Farm.

Nate and Kristen have taken over our poultry operation and are now raising hens and broilers on organic grains while out on the green pastures.  Until our youngest batch of hens start laying, we’ll supplement our egg supplies with eggs from Jarosinski farms.  Their hens are raised on pasture with conventional, antibiotic free feed.

Frankferd Farm orders should by placed by June 30th.  We’ll have those items available for pickup on the week of July 3rd.  Email jen@blackberrymeadows.com and let her know if you’ve placed an order for July.

Who Else?
Frankferd Farms – a natural foods distributor.  Place an order with them once a month and we’ll have it on hand at your CSA pick-up
Wild Purveyors – join their Cheese/mushroom CSA and get speciality PA Cheeses and mushrooms on a monthly basis.
Natrona Bottling Co. – Brewed fresh here in Natrona, this beverage is High Fructose Corn Syrup-Free!
Uppity Women Soaps – locally handmade soaps and creams.
Allegro Hearth Bakery- Fresh bread available at the farm pickup only.
Jarosinski Farm – we’re excited to be working with Kevin, a young fellow in Buffalo Township who is tending high quality pasture raised chickens for eggs and meat.
Building New Hope- a great fair-trade coffee with a great cause and always out there to support the local farms.
Kopar Honey Farm – talk about local!  The Kopars keep bees on our farm, as well as other locations in SW PA.
Clarion River Organics – we purchase potatoes, watermelon, winter squash and other items from them that we may not be growing this year.

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