June 28th 2015 Newsletter

The Weekly Menu

What you can roughly expect to receive each week:

Here’s where we list what is going to be in the weekly shares.  What we think we will harvest when writing the newsletter – may not necessarily be what’s actually ready on harvest day.  We’ll do our best to get it right!

This week:  Kale, Turnip/Greens, Garlic Scapes, Beets and Carrots and possibly Cilantro

It’s wet here.

Well, it’s been wet, as most of you already know.  It’s a mounting delimma for us here – as the fields are sodden and the weeds are growing. The crops we planted in May have been holding their own (the carrots and beets are doing fantastically, and the tomatoes and peppers are coming along nicely).  That said, if things don’t turn around soon, we’re going to hit a lull.  With all this rain, we don’t have an opportunity to plant some the faster growing crops – beans (we already have 8 rows in), lettuce, more greens, or radishes.  We’ve hand transplanted our squash, and cucumbers and will be hand transplanting our winter squash soon (just in time for halloween pumpkins).  Our weeds are taking over the farm.  Now, this is a pretty typical situation for us – as it’s a weedy farm to being with ….. but we don’t spray herbicides and totally rely on (in order of effectiveness and efficiency) 1. tractor cultivation 2. mulching (plastic or straw) and, 3. hand weeding.  Not all crops can be mulched, like beets and carrots, so they must be cultivated or hand weeded.  As I said earlier, it’s been too wet to get tractors into the fields (they’ll compact our soil and/or get stuck) so we’re down to hand weeding and that’s just crazy!  (if anyone wants to volunteer some hours hand weeding – get in touch!)

Ce la vie.  We do what we can and try to not get bogged down in the hardships of farming.  We’re excited to harvest those beets and carrots this week.  We’ve maxed out the bok choi and lettuce crops for now – and need to wait for the next succession to mature (I’m sure you don’t mind a break from bok choi!).  We should also be harvesting kohlrabi – which, if you’re looking for more greens to eat, you can cook them up too.

If you’ve signed up for a summer share, fall share, or winter share – (meaning you start later than the rest of the CSA members):  We’ll let you know when your first pick up will be.

Awhile back, Dawn tried her hand at preserving violets: candied violets and violet jelly!

Future Farmers:

My name’s Dawn Elaine. I’m 21. I’ve worked in retail, as a computer lab aide, a college-level computer science tutor, in a cash office, and I’ve been laid off three times within a three year period. I’m probably not what you’d think of when you think of farming material, and when I applied to be an apprentice at Blackberry Meadows, I was more than a little worried that my lack of related experience might not work in my favor, that they’d tell me that they didn’t think that I’d be a good fit. As it was, they were my only shot at interning on a farm since I don’t have a driver’s license, which pretty much everyone else requires. My family thought I was crazy for wanting to do this. My mother told me that farming was a waste of my intellect.

It turns out, out of everyone on the farm, I am the least educated. And all of those other jobs I had where supposedly my intellect was unwasted, were wasting me away. I would feel mentally drained after only a few hours of sedentary monotony, and knew that eventually I would pay the price for that lifestyle physically. I wanted to get away from offices and cash registers and work somewhere I could see nature more than just on my days off and develop useful skills. Even in the first couple of weeks here, even before what I was, what we call around here “farm strong,” I noticed that I had more energy. I found out all of the terrifying things they said to try to scare away all but the most earnest of apprentices were mostly true, but that my body and mind could grow to handle the new challenges each day brings.

Giant Eagle – Market District at Waterworks

We’ve started something new!  In early Spring, we were approached by Giant Eagle to sell produce in their Market District store in Fox Chapel.  As most CSAs are experiencing in our area, our numbers were a bit down.  It was a great opportunity for us to sell bulk (10 shares) CSA shares to Giant Eagle.  We made our first delivery on Friday, for the produce to be on display this past weekend.  There’s still some kinks to work out -but really, along with Giant Eagle, we’re spearheading the opportunity to get produce from more local organic farms out to the general public.

Each store could reach out to their nearest organic farm, bring in a few CSA shares and get top-of-the-line local organic produce out to the people and help make more small farms profitable; achieving the goal of promoting a local economy based on nutrient dense good local food.  It’s a win-win and we’re happy and excited to see where this goes!  (photo courtesy of Giant Eagle)

Local Goods:

Frankferd Farms – These guys are great!  What a treasure to have here in Western PA – A distributer of natural and organic goods!!  Place an order with them at the end of the month and we’ll have it on hand at your next CSA pick-up.  Give Jen a heads up that you placed an order.

Natrona Bottling Co. – Brewed fresh here in Natrona, this beverage is High Fructose Corn Syrup Free and Local!  If you’re gonna eat junk food – it might as well be local junk food!

Allegro Hearth Bakery Fresh bread and sweets available at the farm pickup only.  Made fresh every Tuesday night – amazing stuff!

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.

Kopar Honey Farm – talk about local!  The Kopars keep bees on our farm, as well as other locations in southwestern, PA.

Clarion River Organics – we purchase potatoes, watermelon, winter squash and other items from them that we may not be growing this year.

Conneautee Creamery – Artisan cheeses made from grass fed cows.

Harmony Hill Farm – supplies us with pasture raised, grass fed beef.  We’ll have ground beef on hand at $7/lb.

Hunter Farms –  keeps us supplied with the best Certified Organic Blueberries  around.  They usually start up in July.  

Una Biological – creams, salves, and balms.  All made in small batches, with organic and some locally sourced ingredients.

Value added from the Farm

We dabble in a few hand crafted items.  We’ll purchase fair trade, organic, green coffee beans and roast them in our wood oven.  

We also make cheese, yogurt, butter, ice cream, chocolate milk, kefir, sour cream, ricotta, skim milk and full fat milk.  If you’d like to purchase any of our raw grass-fed dairy products, you must become a member of C.A.R.E. first – just $20 a year for membership.   Ask Jen for more details.  We have limited supplies.  

We just made some fantastic Garlic Salt this spring.  Mixed with high quality Himalayan Salt – it’s great for a seasoning on most meals and as an addition to popcorn!

Try our Dulce De Leche!  Look in the frozen section for $3.50  1/2 lb packages of homemade sweetness.  Made with milk from our lovely cows and organic sugar and lots of time.

Culinary Tips and Tricks:

Cooking and Preserving ideas – among other culinary hints for produce from the farm:

Our carrots are beautiful and so are the tops!  Here a recipe for Roasted Carrots and Carrot Top Pesto    Here’s another carrot top pesto recipe (consider replacing the garlic scares for green garlic). They are so beautiful – don’t be tempted to throw them out!  Just eat it!

Beets, of course, are great quartered, covered in olive oil and roasted in the oven until you can easily pierce with a fork.  Salt to taste.  Yum!

Here Piggy, Piggy!

We got our new piggies last Thursday.  They are cute now, but they lose their appeal after about 3 months.  It takes about 6 months to grow these guys out to full size (they should be ready in November/December).  They are a Berkshire Pig – which is known for its ability to do well on pasture.  They are also known for juiciness and flavor of the pink-hued and heavily marbled meat. The high fat content makes it suitable for long cooking and high-temperature cooking (and great for bacon). Although our pigs are leaner, as they will be on a pasture based diet with grain, farm veggie and raw milk/whey buffet.

We’ve been offering to sell them as 1/4, 1/2 and whole hog.  But when it comes to a quarter of a pig, you’ll have to decided between ham or bacon, or shoulder roast vs loin roast…..  We can discuss details later.  

We’ll charge $4/lb hanging weight. Thoma’s Meat Market does our processing for us.  The pigs, on average will weigh about 175 – 200 lbs The Hanging Weight refers to the weight of the animal as it hangs in the butcher’s cooler once the head, hide, feet, organs and blood are removed.

When the times comes, I’ll put you in touch with Thoma’s and you can discuss with them, the types of cuts and packaging you’re looking for.  You’ll then pay Thoma’s about (based on 2014 prices) 60 cents per pound for the meat to be cut, wrapped, and frozen.  If you want any meat to be cured, that’s an additional 65 cents per pound.  

Here’s a great tutorial on buying a 1/2 a steer – but the same info is applicable to pork  

We are asking for a $100 deposit for the pork to reserve yourself some meat!

Thanks for choosing our CSA.  We strive to grow nutrient dense, wholesome foods for you.  We think what we do is hard work – but important for our family, friends, and community.  There’s a few things that we find important: growing good food, participating in the local economy, being good stewards to the environment, providing our community with access to a farm, farm animals and the outdoors, and teaching new and beginning farmers what we know.  By being a CSA member and supporting our endeavors, you’re helping us to achieve our goals.  Thanks!!


Your Farmers,Greg, Jen, Evelyn, Matt, Sam, Dawn and Haven

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