August 3rd 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: Carrots (they are getting smaller now), beans, garlic, peppers (purple and green), herbs and greens.

It looks like one of our apple trees is starting to produce and is just about ready.  We may pick it this week, or next…. but I wanted to give you a heads up that these apples have never been sprayed with anything….so they are rather ugly.  The upside is that you can eat them, right then and there.  There’s no chemicals to wash off (there’s something that they put on conventional apples that makes my lips tingle and mouth itch) and you can tell that if the bugs like them….they must be good!

Playing catch-up

I’m having mixed feelings about this season so far.  It started off rough… and I mean really rough.  We had to do so much work by hand, which we would usually do by tractor; weeding, plowing (using shovels), planting…. and crops just weren’t producing.  That kind of rain washes away fertilizers, suffocates roots, and fosters disease.  We couldn’t prep fields for planting (that means mowing, plowing, spading, fertilizing, tilling and planting – which all together takes about 2 weeks of dry weather tractor work to get done).  So, at the moment, crops are scarce.  We had one field ready for planting that was destined to be the squash field. We had two more fields that were planned for melons and winter squash (these are all in the cucurbit family).  When it was so wet, back in June/July, we had to decide how were were going to handle fitting 3 different crops into the one and only field ready for planting.  We split the difference and planted squash, cucumbers, and melons in the same field.  Now…. I kinda wish I didn’t do that.

Our squash and cucumbers are just now starting to produce, but it looks like splitting that field into 3 different crops is going to shortchange us on all 3 crops in the end.  I don’t think we’ll have a bumper crop of any of these items, because we had to fit them all into one available field.  Lesson leaned…. I should have just done squash or cucumbers and accepted that there wouldn’t be melons this year.  We’ll see how it plays out, but I’m a little anxious.

We did get the remaining fields prepped and planted  – so they’ll be producing too – but just a little later than expected.

So…. this week, there may be some rationing of squash and cucumbers.

On the flip side.  I love my deer fence.  We haven’t had a bean or carrot* harvest like this in years!  To some of our long-term BBMF members….. I bet you can’t remember getting so many carrots!  We used to have to plant three times as much to compensate for the deer damage to our crops.  Now that we have a fence, I’m thinking we can cut back on a few rows of beans….. we can’t keep up with the picking!

*please don’t get burnt out on carrots!  We have a couple more rows to finish harvesting!!  Try making and freezing carrot soup for the winter months!

An Note from Dawn Elaine:

Handmade Postcards

Some of you may have noticed a sign asking if anyone might be interested in handmade postcards.  I enjoy making postcards as a hobby and made a small batch (about a dozen total) of hand glued postcards featuring photos of the farm.  The back provides a space to write, made of cardstock, and a custom design inspired by traditional postcards.  The photos on the front feature various discoveries I made on the farm, discoveries that can be shared with your friends and loved ones either to mark a special occasion or just because.  These postcards are 4x6inches and meet the size requirements for a Small Postcard, so only cost 33cents to mail instead of the standard letter fee.  We will have some postcard stamps in the barn available if you wish to buy postage with it. 



How to Use a Shovel

Hey everyone, I just wanted to share an important message about posture.  Posture is everything.  Good posture will improve your quality of life regardless of if you have a desk job or spend your days out in the field wielding a shovel.  But if the latter applies to you, then using improper posture can very quickly lead to painful injuries, whereas perfect posture will enable you to use such tools for hours with minimal strain.

Now, I don’t claim to have perfect posture.  In fact, earlier this week, I found out I’ve been using a shovel wrong my whole life, which is what motivated me to write this.  I watched all of the guys just lift shovelfuls of dirt twice as heavy as mine with no effort and just assumed that I was weaker than them until Sam, one of the other apprentices, saw what I was doing wrong.  

First, it’s important to have a wide stance and use your knees to lift, not your back.  A wider stance provides better balance and is more powerful, and using your knees relieves strain on your back.  When you are actually digging, you want to move like a pendulum, with steady easily repeatable movements back and forth.  If you have to use your foot to help dig your shovel into harder soil, you should try to align your body so you are parallel to the handle(this means all of the force you exert is being exerted in the direction you want the shovel to go) and to raise yourself before bringing down the full force of your body.

My instructions might not be the best.  In fact, I’m sure it’d be clearer looking up a diagram or a video of someone demonstrating this, but I hope I’ve at least encouraged someone to be more mindful of their posture to make their life easier.

CSA Potluck August 15th -Sign up now!

Click here for the Link

We had a nice turn out for this past potluck – and we really lucked out with the rain.  Everyone had a chance to make their own pizza, which was lots of fun!

Play Date at the Farm!

Starting on the first friday in August (the 7th), we’ll be hosting a playdate here at the farm.  We’ll try doing morning sessions: 9:30 – 12:30, and just for the month of August.  More details to come – but in general, we’d like to invite you and you’re kids (2 1/2 – 8 years old?) to come out to the farm for a play date.  If you’re a CSA member and would like your kids to get more “farm time” getting dirty, visiting animals and playing on the farm for a couple of hours, you’re invited.  We’ll see how this goes and then decide what kind of structure and time frame works best for us all.  Check in with me if you think you and your kids will attend!

Here’s a couple interesting links to articles about farm exposure and allergies:

Hay Fever

New York Times Article

Carrot Soup


Ingredients

  • 1/2 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 pound carrots, scrubbed (or peeled) and chopped (~4 cups)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 cups Veggie Stock + 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup creamy or crunchy salted natural peanut butter (use less for a less intense PB flavor)
  • 2 tsp chili garlic sauce (use less for less spice)
  • TOPPINGS: Fresh basil, cilantro, or mint; coconut milk; brown sugar or agave nectar (sub honey if not vegan); Sriracha hot sauce
  • (NOT LISTED: Coconut or Olive Oil for sauteing)
Instructions
  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Dice onion and garlic. Add to pot with 1 Tbsp coconut or olive oil (or nonstick spray). Add carrots and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Season with a healthy pinch each salt and pepper, then add veggie stock and 2 cups of water and stir.
  4. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until veggies are tender (test by cutting a larger piece of carrot in half – it should cut with ease).
  5. Transfer to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and blend until smooth and creamy. (Cover with a towel in case your lid leaks any soup while blending.)
  6. Add peanut butter and chili garlic sauce to the blender and blend to combine, using a ‘puree’ or ‘liquify’ setting if you have it.
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. For a touch of added sweetness, add a Tbsp or so of brown sugar, maple syrup or agave nectar (or honey if not vegan). Add more chili garlic sauce for more heat.
  8. Serve immediately with fresh basil or herbs of choice. A drizzle of coconut milk will add a creamy, sweet touch. Serve with sriracha for extra heat.
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.
Brenkel’s Organic Farm – in Zelienople, supplies us with a few veggies too. 
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.
Northwoods Ranch – located in Gibsonia area, this farm specialies in all pasture raised, Non-GMO and soy free beef and pork.  They raise heritage breeds of pigs and Highland Cattle for beef.  Currently, we only have ground beef from these guys.
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 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!

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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