July 5th 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:  New! Kohlrabi and Cabbage, Kale, Turnips, Garlic Scapes, Beets and Carrots and possibly Basil

Happy July!

With a rainy June behind us, we are comfortably into our summer CSA groove.  A routine of chores, harvests, and markets is making time fly by, so all the education and training we’ve all invested in is paying off.

Jen and I say that “Farm intuition” is what we teach our apprentices.  Farms can be very dangerous places and teaching people, all of whom have never lived on a farm, how to stay safe or prevent innocently hurting another because of a misplaced tool, or unlocked gate.  Most farmers learn this growing up; they learn how to notice things.  But here, the apprentices get a 3-month crash course before we get into the summer groove.

This time of year, things start moving pretty fast, and the crew knows their chores and routines enough to be confident and capable in just about any aspect of the farm.  As a Janitor, its now that I feel the most joy in being part of a community driven operation, and especially part of a ‘crew’.  Our apprentices are running the place, and our members are gobbling up the harvests!  Now Jen and I focus on keeping the business, the buildings, the markets and the equipment in top working order so we can thrive!

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.

Future Farmers: Haven Schrock

Hey farm fans! My name is Haven. I am a 26 year old former city slicker and am somewhat surprised to find myself on a farm. I grew up in the heart of Minneapolis, MN, and I loved city living. However, I’ve been traveling a lot in the past four years and have developed a deep interest in where our food comes from and the impact of food production on our world and in our communities. 

After leaving Indiana, where I graduated from Goshen College, I moved to Nashville TN and worked once a week on an organic farm while living in a house with 14 other people. It was pretty chaotic with so many people, so the farm was a peaceful respite, but I never really knew what needed to be done and sometimes felt like a burden. I needed a change of pace and left to teach English at a high school in Bangkok, but the seed had been planted in me and I wanted to learn more about growing food. 

I moved to Denver afterwards and worked in a local garden store, but the retail side of growing wasn’t for me; I just wasn’t learning enough. I then travelled to Brazil and had hoped to do WWOOF on some farms, but they seemed to want experienced help and I couldn’t justifiably say I was their man. Upon returning I moved to Pittsburgh to live with my brother, and resolved to make a strong effort to learn how to farm. I found Blackberry Meadows and now am happily getting my hands dirty, being outside, and learning day by day what it takes to be a farmer. It’s never easy, but it is certainly rewarding.

I am still a city boy at heart, and hope that I can apply what I learn here to smaller scale urban farming. I long for the day that we see gardens growing in every nook of our cities, replacing our clean cut grassy lawns with abundant  healthy veggies. I hope to one day teach other young city folks that growing food and getting a little dirty is very fun and an immeasurably valuable skill to have.

That’s all from me for now folks, but there is so much more I’d like to talk with you about. So why don’t ya come on out to the markets and let’s talk about food and plants and life! 

Peace!

Our beans are looking great and have a bunch of flowers on them.  Just a couple more weeks and we’ll be ready to harvest.  This is particular exciting, as the deer have typically harvested the majority of our bean crop.  We owe a big old shout out of THANKS! to the folks who invested (bought 5 years of CSAs ahead of time) in the farm last year.  This deer fence has been a life saver!  Beans, carrots, beets, lettuce – it’s all here!

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:

This week – you’ll be getting purple Kohlrabi.  It’s super tasty – almost like eating broccoli hearts – crispy, crunchy and …. tastes like broccoli.  Just pull off the leaves (you can cook them up too), peel the thin skin, slice, sprinkle with salt and eat em up!  

You can also grate them and make a good coleslaw, hash browns, or boiled and cooked with mashed potatoes.  

Here are a few links too – with this one – try using your garlic scapes in place of garlic cloves.  Roasted Kohlrabi

Epicurious.com is really one of my favorite go-to websites.  How about lentils and kohlrabi?

Use this recipe for all of your root crops coming in – particularly, turnips, kohlrabi (not technically a root crop), and potatoes (which we don’t have yet).  A great Mashed Root Veggie Medely.

Enjoy!

Same news from Last Week – but still looking for reservations!! (for the benefit of the 1/2 shares, who may not read each newsletter)

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!!



Sincerely,



Your Farmers,

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

 

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