Week 11- August 29

The weather has been so cool lately – it’s quite enjoyable to spend our August days out in the sunshine and cool breezes.  Insect pressure has really decreased as the temperatures drop at night – making life a little easier for us.  That said, cool weather doesn’t bode well for ripe tomatoes.  They really slow down as the weather turns towards fall.  It seems like the plants are still loaded with lots to big tomatoes – but we will have to just wait and let nature do its thing.

We’ve been really busy on the farm, typical of August.  Last Wednesday we poured the foundation for the brick oven, a big event, which allows us to move onto the next phase – construction!

Saturday, as per usual, we attended the Farmers at the Firehouse market and did our CSA drops.  Sunday, our typical day off, was spent hustling tomatoes at Phipps “Red, Ripe, & Roasted Festival.”  We gave out lots of tomato samples and exposed folks to the difference between heirloom and hybrid tomatoes.  We also won the “Ugliest Tomato” contest with a gnarly old Striped German tomato.  We’re so proud!


The 2011 turkeys have arrived and we’re so excited they’re here!

We just love raising turkeys because they’re so much fun to have around. These little ones are cute, fuzzy, friendly and curious. I know they look just like baby chickens now but their personalities are so different. They’ll be following us around in no time. 

A few more new arrivals hitched a ride with the turkeys . . . a handful of ducklings! These girls are not for production but for fly control as well as for fun and entertainment for the farm. We have 6 Khaki Campbells and 6 White Pekins. We’re falling more in love with them by the day. They bring instant smiles and we’re so happy to have them!


Pouring concrete, especially near the house, generates the distinct feeling of permanence. We ordered 6 cubic yards of concrete and had two wheel barrows left over (enough for 1.5 sidewalk pavers).  Some of you may have heard the huge truck rolling up the driveway, and revving its engine during the pour last Wednesday.  It only took about 30 minutes to line everything up and fill up the foundation.

There are two facts for the oven right now – first is that we are proud to say that it was through your support (both money and verbal encouragement) that brought us this far.  Year after year, we host the community picnic – bring out the grills, set up the tents and tables – for a single day.  We often wondered how special it would be to host more regular events for our members and for the Pittsburgh local food community.  Well, this oven will give us that chance!

Second, that we are now challenged to advance construction before our picnic on September 17th!  We doubt that the oven will be finished by the picnic – but we’re going to try!  Nate and Greg have blocked out a few evenings to lay the concrete blocks and build up to the “floating” pad – which is the next leg of construction.

The floating pad is a second bit of concrete (only about ¼ of a yard) that will hold up the fire box and brick arches that make the core of the oven. Our friends Ray and Rich – who have experience building these kinds of ovens – will be coming back  once we are ready for this step.

We will stack 4 courses of block in a 5 x 5 foot square and then make a grid of steel reinforcing bar (re-bar) over the center.  We will build a temporary wooden platform a few inches below the steel which will serve as a base for the floating pad.  After the next pour, we’ll remove the wood framing and get ready to construct the firebox!


Since we’ve finished pouring the foundation for the wood-fired oven!  It was a big accomplishment and we’re ready for phase 2!  Actually, we’re looking for to borrow a stone-saw/wet-saw that is powerful and large enough to cut standard size hard firebrick, limestone block and/or concrete block.  Let nate@blackberrymeadows.com know if you’ve got one that we can borrow.
We had a crew of gleaners from the Food Bank come out and harvest the old row of Chard and pull out the last of the small beets.  We donated about 400 lbs of chard last week, and expect that they’ll be able to harvest another 400 pounds today.  We’re excited to be working with the Food Bank and helping to share our excess and secondary harvests with folks who can use it.

Our friend, Patrick Weakland, from Harmony Hill Farm has offered to provide us with 100% grass-fed ground beef from his farm.  It’s a top quality product – and although not certified organic, he doesn’t use herbicides, pesticides, growth hormones or antibiotics.  We’re selling batches of 6 – 7 lbs ( in roughly 1 lb bag increments) of ground beef for $6/lb.  If you’d like to order a batch (6 – 7 lbs $36 – $42) of ground beef, please email jen@blackberrymeadows.com and we’ll put your name on the list.  Let me know by tomorrow (Tuesday) if you’d still like to place an order.   We’ll have your order on hand on the 31st or at your first pick up thereafter.


Need more local products? If you belong to the Boyd, Phipps or Summerset drop offs and would like any of the additional items (see the “Who Else?” section in the right hand column) we sell, please send us a note and we’ll make sure we bring it to you.  That said, we have a limited supply of eggs at the moment (until July/August), and they are sold on a first come first served basis.  Particularly, if you’re interested in purchasing chicken – please let us know.
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.
Frankferd Farm orders should be placed by August 31 for delivery on the first week of September.  Click on the link above to view their on-line catalog.  We also have hard-copy catalogs available in the barn.  Mention that the orders are to be picked up by Blackberry Meadows Farm.  We’ll have those items available for pickup on the week of September 1.  Email jen@blackberrymeadows.com and let her know if you’ve placed an order for August.  We will bring orders to Phipps, Boyd and Summerset too.

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 made from early 1900‘s recipes – before High Fructose Corn Syrup!
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 many other locations in SW PA.
Clarion River Organics – we purchase potatoes, winter squash and other items from them that we may not be growing this year.
Conneautee Creamery – fresh raw milk cheeses from grass fed cows in Erie County.
Riverview Dairy – local artisan made goat cheeses (Chevre and feta).
Flower & Bee – a new grower on our farm is growing and selling beautiful bouquets and is happy

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