August 31st 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: Tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, Green Peppers, Red Italian (Corno Di Toro) Sweet Pepper, Purple Pepper,and squash.

Our defenses have been breached.

It’s been reported that a deer has tried to jump our deer fence.  It tore down a bit of the 8 ft plastic fencing – but apparently didn’t make it in….. this time.  There were no reports of crops grazed – which is still amazing.  Sam did find 6 groundhog holes in our compost pile – which is conveniently located next our our crops…. we are taking this affront seriously!

We’ve had a relatively pest free year (except for insects, which are harder to deter).  It’s been nice going to sleep at night, knowing that deer aren’t mowing down our lettuce and beans.  Next year. we’re thinking of concentrating more crops on the west side of the farm – and growing a few crops that deer don’t eat, like herbs, garlic and onions on the East (unfenced) side of the farm.

We are also planning on upping our protein production – meaning we’ll raise a couple litters of pigs, a couple more beef cattle…. and who knows what else.  If we can concentrate more crops in a smaller area with more production (because there’s less deer damage and more density of nutrients), than we can afford more space and time for animal production.

That said, we still have to lime the whole farm (in order to keep the pH correct for both pastures and cropland).  This can add up when your’e trying to lime 15 acres or more of land…..  An old farmer once said, ‘spend every extra penny you have on lime’.  It’s something I have always remembered and done my best to follow.  We haven’t gotten every field limed, every year, but are doing our best!

I’ve been reading a great book: The intelligent Gardener and the author has done a great job simplifying the relationship of micro and macro nutrients in the soil and their relationship to soil pH.  I’ve learned a lot and am excited to follow through with his advice on soil tests and nutrient dense amendments.  If we can concentrate crops on a smaller plot of land (protected by deer fencing), and concentrate nutrients, labor and love  – I’m confident that we can produce more nutrient dense food for you all!

Ultimately, we’d like to be a one-stop shop for our members – you can come here for veggies, fruits, meats, dairy, eggs, and sweets (maple syrup and honey).  Have you heard of a Whole Diet CSA?  You now have some homework to do!  Look it up, check it out and let us know what you think and where you envision us (your farm) going!  We’re a community farm – we need your input!

This month!:  Outdoor Movie Night!! Sept 19th   Please RSVP

We’re excited to try out a new idea – we’re going to have an outdoor movie night at the farm.  We’ll choose a ‘kid friendly’ movie -(recommendations are welcome! Right now we are thinking of going with Babe), and try to start it as early as the daylight will allow.  The sun sets around 7 in mid September – so the show will start around 8 pm.  

We’ll provide popcorn – you bring refreshments, a blanket, bug spray and have fun!

Evelyn found a snake!  Can you identify it? (no worries, it’s not poisonous).  

The Big Share

We’re collaborating with CHS (Community Human Services) for The Big Share.  A Farm to Table Dinner and Concert.  Saturday October 3rd.  

Go to CHSCorp.org for tickets!

All profits from tickets sold will go towards buying produce (CSA shares) from our farm which we will then, deliver to the CHS food pantry.

If you’re looking for a fancy local dinner that serves multiple good causes, this is the one!  Help benefit our farm and get good, nutritious food to those experiencing Food Insecurity!
Photo Courtesy of Adam Miliron

Family Friendly Days in our Area!

Join us for a day with Farm Family Kindermusik on Saturday morning, September 19th.  (Weather Permitting)

Help Celebrate!  Christa Beck (one of our long-time CSA members) has been teaching Kindermusik in the Alle-Kiski Valley for 15 years now!

Kindermusik

1212 Carlisle Street

Natrona HeightsPA  15065

MOPS Sarver

It’s about time for MOPS to get together soon! Get together with a bunch of great ladies with a passion for life, love and family!  Join their Meet the Moms event on September 2 & 16th.  Click on the link above for more details.  Once the farm slows down, you’ll see Jen and Evelyn at the MOPs meetings too!

Storytime and Lapsit at the Community Library of Allegheny Valley (Natrona Heights

We really enjoy the story time with Ms Judy!  Hope to see you there!

Looking to can some Tomatoes?
Of all the different tomatoes we are growing this year – Dad’s Sunset have been the all time best producers.  They are the yellow/gold round slicer tomatoes that we’ve given out the past couple weeks.  

We’ve found, that despite their yellow color, they have an amazing tomatoey taste (I find yellow tomatoes to be more bland and less acidic).  These guys have proven themselves in every way…. amazing BLTs, great in tomato salad (cut up a bunch of tomatoes, add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and a bunch of garlic – yum!), and a seriously bulky and colorful paste tomato – yes, they make superb sauce!  

Have I sold you yet?  We will be selling 25 lb boxes of Dad’s sunset for $30 each.  It’s a good deal – organic, heirloom tomatoes – fresh picked and ready for canning.  We retail our tomatoes at $3.50/ lb at market.  We may or may not have regular paste tomatoes later (San Marzanos).  They were planted late and are up on Deer Hill (the east side of the farm without fencing).  If you’re thinking of canning – this may be the only tomato opportunity you’ll get.  Be sure to let jen@blackberrymeadows.com know if you’d like a box or two set aside.

**remember, because they are a yellow tomato, they may be lower in acidity – which means you need to add lemon juice to your jars to raise the acidity!!

Local Goods:

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.   

Mom’s Red Raspberry Jelly (made with our berries and organic sugar!) will be available this week.

Also – we’ve roasted coffee!  We’ll have that for sale too!

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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