October 13th 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: Potatoes, Green Peppers, Red Italian (Corno Di Toro) Sweet Pepper, greens mix, beet greens, kale, scallions, arugula, haukeri turnips, and pumpkins!

Fall Days & here comes the frost(?!)

Fall is my favorite time of year – the sunny crisp days, lush greens, no insect pressure, just the right amount of rain, and the changing colors of the trees. It’s really great.

One of my favorite things to grow is Haukeri turnips – or White Egg Turnip (pictured below). It’s been a couple of years since we’ve have a great harvest of these little beauties. When I started farming (in my 20s), I’d never really eaten turnips. I was introduced to these guys at the first farm I worked at. They are sweet with a slight bite, tender, and yummy in so many ways. First, thinly sliced in salads… quick and easy. Second, (my favorite) quarter and boil till tender, then quickly sauté in butter and add a drizzle of (real) maple syrup and a sprinkle of salt. They are also great mashed with potatoes, roasted in the oven, or pickled. Don’t ignore those greens either – they are young and tender and you should eat them! I think you’ll fall in love too! (click on the links above for recipe ideas)

It was a success with the Sewickley Academy kids. 65 of them descended upon us and really cranked out some projects. We got about 80% of our garlic filed planted (thanks to you folks who help shuck garlic!) and all of our tomato stakes pulled out. Afterwards we couldn’t cook up enough pizza to keep the kids fed! We’re happy to have them back again next year!

Planting garlic in teams of 2


Tomato stakes ready to be pulled

Sewickley kids shucking garlic

We are coming to the end of our CSA

Here we are at week 18 of 20. For some of the 1/2 shares – next week will be your last pick up. I’ll be out of town next Wednesday at a PAWAgN Steering Committee meeting – so I’ll be extra sorry to miss you at the end of the CSA.

If you’re interested in signing up for the extended season CSA (Nov 4 – Dec 2nd), let me know. Pick up is at the barn on Wednesdays from 3pm – 7 pm. We’ll pack a bag for you – all you have to do is stop by, sign in and take your bag or bags. We’ll also have eggs and milk for sale. The 5 week extended CSA is $180.

You can expect to receive similar items to what you’re getting at the moment. Some things, like peppers, are not frost hardy – you’ll get more greens, root crops and squash.

Pastured Pork – Sign up now!

We’ve a couple months to go – but our piggies are growing fast and we need to get you locked in for buying a 1/2 or 1/4 of a hog if you’re interested.

Our pigs are raised on pasture with 100% non-GMO feed. They are Berkshires, which are known for being great on pasture and a good ratio of fat to meat. The pigs we raised last year were also Berks – and really turned out some amazing quality meat. If you need more details on what it means to buy a 1/2 or 1/4 hog, let me know – I’ll break it down for you! We need a deposit of $100. We’ve got 5 pigs and about 3 spoken for, so far.

Pastured Raised Chicken!

This is the last call for roasting chicken.

Kevin Jarosinski is winding down his operation for the season – and will be processing his birds next week. Please let me know if you’d like to reserve some roasting chickens for Oct 21 or Oct 28th. They are $5.50 a lb – and typically the birds are dressed around 4 – 6 lbs each. If you haven’t had one yet – you should give it a try – these birds a juicy, flavorful and well worth eating! You won’t forget it!

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Instagram!

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram – @blackberrymeadows.

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.
Hannah’s Honeya local honey producer from Fox Chapel.
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 Biologicalcreams, 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

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

October 6th 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: Potatoes, Green Peppers, Red Italian (Corno Di Toro) Sweet Pepper, Purple (Islander) Pepper, broccoli raab, greens mix, beet greens, kale, scallions, arugula, and pumpkins!

October is Crazy!

We started October with a bang! Saturday’s event was tremendous and we’re happy to plan for it again next year! Now, we’ve got to get back to business!

Tomorrow, we’re hosting a group of Grow Pittsburgh Apprentices – showing them around the farm, working a little and enjoying another round of pizzas.

Thursday, we’re hosting 65 kids from Sewickley Academy for the morning. At 10 am – they’ll arrive and we’re breaking them into groups and putting them straight to work. 1) shucking garlic, 2) planting garlic 3) mulching garlic 4) pulling out tomato stakes. After a busy morning we will give them a tour, fill their bellies with pizza and send them on their way. We had Sewickley Academy out to the farm last year and it really turned out well. We’re excited to have them back again and looking forward to getting a lot of work done!

We need help!

Now that the weather is cooler and much more pleasant, volunteers are starting to come out of the wood work! It’s great!!

If you or you know someone who has a relatively open schedule – we could use some more volunteer help on the farm. Specifically, for harvesting: Tuesdays 9 – 1:30 or Fridays 9 – 1:30 (we’ll provide lunch). For weeding: Mondays, Thursdays or Saturdays – anytime.

Would this fit into your office’s community service needs? Send the appropriate person our way! We can work with groups too!

Get in touch with Jen@blackberrymeadows.com and let me know if you’re interested! Thanks!!

The Big Share

Despite the cold weather – we had an amazing turnout and a great time at The Big Share event here at the farm. It quit raining mid-afternoon and left the farm chilly, damp and muddy… but folks kept coming! We had maybe 185 folks turn up for the festivities and food. The folks as CHS we so happy with the results – they’re already talking about doing it again next year! I’m sure I’ll miss some folks – but off the top of my head – I’d like to thank Community Human Services (Trevor, Mel, Tim (head chef) and their volunteers and staff) for orchestrating this whole event! Thanks to: Spack Brothers who served up some amazing pizzas from our wood oven; Pittsburgh Ice Cream Co – with outstanding local/fresh ice creams, UPMC for donating the tent, Cafe De Amore for providing FTO coffee, Full Pint Brewing for the good beer, Butcher on Butler for smoking the pig and Heilmans Hogwash for providing the pasture raised pork, and the musicians – who kept us warm and dancing all night long! Please forgive me for forgetting the numerous other folks who contributed to this event. It was a raging success! (Thanks to Dad for taking the pictures!)

Garlic Soup! – (A great way to use up a lot of Garlic!) – from Larry and Judy Laurinatis

Czech Garlic Soup
8 cups water or broth
1 Tbs salt
3 heads of garlic, cleaned
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp caraway, crushed
2-3 large potatoes, diced
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs parsley
4 slices dark rye bread
Mash garlic with salt. Place garlic and salt in large pot, add water or broth and slowly bring to boil.

Reduce heat to simmer.

Add crushed caraway, potatoes and marjoram.

Cook until potatoes are done. Test for seasoning.

Fry bread in butter till golden and serve with soup.

Sprinkle with parsley

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 Biologicalcreams, 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

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

September 29th 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: Green Tomatoes, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Green Peppers, Red Italian (Corno Di Toro) Sweet Pepper, Purple (Islander) Pepper, broccoli raab, greens mix, baby turnip greens, scallions, and arugula.

The rain is back!

It’s only be 2 days of rain and we’re already grumpy about being wet. I think back to the Spring, where the rain was relentless – I don’t know how we kept our spirits up or if we even did. I think we’ve all gone through 3 outfits today while harvesting for the CSA tomorrow. It’s wet out there!

This kind of weather is great for our greens. The kale will be ready to harvest next week, and the arugula and greens are really living it up. I’ve pretty much given up on the tomatoes – but there’s still a bunch of green tomatoes in the field. You can either eat them green, or wrap them in newspaper and store in a cool dry place until they ripen. I do think that the cherry tomatoes have about had it….

This week you’re going to get a lot of greens…. please, please, give them a chance! The arugula is typically eaten in salads, but can also be cooked (it tames the flavor a bit). The baby turnip greens are so tender and amazing. I like to eat them raw – but a quick sauté in olive oil (or bacon grease) and garlic really makes them shine! The greens mix is best used as a salad too. It’s a mixture of mild mustard greens – and they really make a salad pop! They can be cooked too and added to omelets, lasagna, or stir fry. You’ll be getting broccoli raab again – this is great in soups – I made a hambone and black eyed pea dish in the crock pot and threw in a a whole bag of chopped broccoli raab. Yum! Lastly, you’re getting these strange radishes… Black (Nero De Tondo) and/or pink (Watermelon). The black radishes have a real kick – and are good raw (hot!), pickled, or cooked in butter. The Watermelon radishes are a bit more mellow – and are great chopped on salads. The greens are edible too- but much better cooked – add them to your broccoli raab dish!

Big plans are happening with the Big Share event in October 3rd (see below). The chefs are roasting a pig from Heilman’s HogWash Farm (in Sarver), lots of veggies from our farm, and Pittsburgh Ice Cream for dessert. There’s live entertainment and a fun atmosphere- all at a reasonable price ($50 per adult and kids under 10 eat free!). Sign up soon! Profits from the dinner go towards buying CSA shares from our farm for those in need of good, nutritious food! It’s a win-win situation! Here’s a recent article in the Trib.

We need help!

Now that the weather is cooler and much more pleasant, volunteers are starting to come out of the wood work! It’s great!!

If you or you know someone who has a relatively open schedule – we could use some more volunteer help on the farm. Specifically, for harvesting: Tuesdays 9 – 1:30 or Fridays 9 – 1:30 (we’ll provide lunch). For weeding: Mondays, Thursdays or Saturdays – anytime.

Would this fit into your office’s community service needs? Send the appropriate person our way! We can work with groups too!

Get in touch with Jen@blackberrymeadows.com and let me know if you’re interested! Thanks!!

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

Progress on the Wood Oven!

We’ve made some great progress on our wood oven project. It’s been a looonng process – and I imagine it’ll still take some time before we actually “finish” anything! Check out these photos!


We’ve got our friend Gavin, from Woods of Plenty, working on a beautiful mosaic (that’s actually Sam in this picture).

And on Monday, we found some time to get dirty and put up some earthen plaster on the outside of the oven.


We mixed clay (from our own farm!), sand and straw with water and stomped it down. Then, we spread the plaster on the exterior of the oven. It’s looking good!

What to do with all those Green Tomatoes!?! (repeat from last week)

 

(From an NPR Article in August 2011)

According to Mario Batali’s Molto Italiano (HarperCollins 2005), from which this recipe is adapted, this is a Palermo variation on the classic pesto Genovese. The sour green tomatoes, punchy mint and arugula (in addition to the usual basil), as well as the omission of the standard nuts, make this pesto particularly light and tangy. It’s perfect for a warm evening, especially with a generous dusting of aged Parmigiano.

Deena Prichep for NPR

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1/4 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup arugula
5 green tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound spaghetti
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-reggiano

Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, combine the mint, basil, parsley, arugula, tomatoes, garlic and olive oil in a food processor and pulse to form a chunky puree. Season heavily with salt and pepper.

When the water has come to a boil, add the pasta and cook until done to your taste. Drain, and return to the hot pot. Stir in the sauce until well combined, and serve immediately, topped with the cheese.

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 Biologicalcreams, 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

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

September 22nd 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: Green Tomatoes, Potatoes, Tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, Green Peppers, Red Italian (Corno Di Toro) Sweet Pepper, Purple Pepper,and summer/winter squash, broccoli raab, greens mix, chard, and arugula.

Fall is Here!

The days have turned crisp and the summer crops are waning. Savor the last of the tomatoes, as they have been taking a hit from many sides (late blight, early blight, septoria leaf spot, cool nights, stink bugs and splitting). We’ll keep harvesting them, while they ripen, but also dabble into the realm of green tomatoes. (See recipe below).

This past saturday was quite productive for me – I was able to seed some crops with our Allis Chalmers G. The fall crops of Tatsoi, haukeri turnips, French Breakfast Radishes, Snow Peas, and Beets have been seeded. Some of these varieties are so hardy, they’ll handle a bit of snow and keep on growing! If you’re planning on signing up for the extended (winter) share (or already have), let me know. We’ll be happy to extend the season for you a bit longer (5 weeks from the the beginning of November to the beginning of December). We have limited room – so sign up soon!

This week you’re getting about a 1/2 lb of “greens mix” – which has a mixture of mild mustard greens – very nice, fresh in a salad – but also good quickly braised and added to omelets or quiche. There’s also a bag of arugula (see last week’s recipe below), and Broccoli Raab greens.

Now, typically, Broccoli Raab is just the little broccoli florets, but the plants actually produce an amazing amount of tasty greens. It seems a shame to leave those greens behind, just for the florets. So – what to do with that bag of greens? Saute, blanch, steam, add to soups…. it’s limitless. “A three-ounce serving (about 85 grams) of raw broccoli rabe provides your body with almost a third of the Daily Value for vitamin C.” from here. So eat up!

September is about over…. we had a nice turn out for Kindermusik with Christa Beck and rain for our movie night (canceled). The rest of the season seems so busy, I don’ know if we’ll try to squeeze in another movie night or not. We’ll be sure to let you know.

Big plans are happening with the Big Share event in October 3rd (see below). The chefs are roasting a pig from Heilman’s HogWash Farm (in Sarver), lots of veggies from our farm, and Pittsburgh Ice Cream for dessert. There’s live entertainment and a fun atmosphere- all at a reasonable price ($50 per adult and kids under 10 eat free!). Sign up soon! Profits from the dinner go towards buying CSA shares from our farm for those in need of good, nutritious food! It’s a win-win situation!

We need help!

Now that the weather is cooler and much more pleasant, volunteers are starting to come out of the wood work! It’s great!!

If you or you know someone who has a relatively open schedule – we could use some more volunteer help on the farm. Specifically, for harvesting: Tuesdays 9 – 1:30 or Fridays 9 – 1:30 (we’ll provide lunch). For weeding: Mondays, Thursdays or Saturdays – anytime.

Would this fit into your office’s community service needs? Send the appropriate person our way! We can work with groups too!

Get in touch with Jen@blackberrymeadows.com and let me know if you’re interested! Thanks!!

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

We need your help! With Garlic!

The great garlic planting is going to be upon us soon – and that means that we need to start “shucking” garlic. We’ve set aside the biggest and best bulbs of garlic as our “seed garlic” for the fall. We need help pulling the bulbs apart into cloves. Ultimately, we need about 10 5 gallon buckets of garlic bulbs. If you all take a few bundles of garlic home, shuck it and bring it back next week, that would be great! We’re looking to have all the garlic back here by October 7th.

Sewickely Academy is coming out on the 9th to help plant all that garlic!

In early October, we’ve got Sewickly Academy coming out with about 70 kids. We’ll have a power planting day with a bunch of student and get the job done in one day!

What to do with all those Green Tomatoes!?!

 

(From an NPR Article in August 2011)

According to Mario Batali’s Molto Italiano (HarperCollins 2005), from which this recipe is adapted, this is a Palermo variation on the classic pesto Genovese. The sour green tomatoes, punchy mint and arugula (in addition to the usual basil), as well as the omission of the standard nuts, make this pesto particularly light and tangy. It’s perfect for a warm evening, especially with a generous dusting of aged Parmigiano.

Deena Prichep for NPR

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1/4 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup arugula
5 green tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound spaghetti
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-reggiano

Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, combine the mint, basil, parsley, arugula, tomatoes, garlic and olive oil in a food processor and pulse to form a chunky puree. Season heavily with salt and pepper.

When the water has come to a boil, add the pasta and cook until done to your taste. Drain, and return to the hot pot. Stir in the sauce until well combined, and serve immediately, topped with the cheese.

(A repeat from last week)

Some recipe ideas for this week:

I think arugula is a Love it or Hate it vegetable. I personally have a hard time eating it – it’s too spicy and bitter for me. That said, if I can doctor it up nicely – I can still eat it! So my trick for Arugula:

Balsamic Arugula Salad:

The salad:
One washed bag of arugula
Lots of other veggies (cherry tomatoes, peppers, squash, beets, onions, etc)
Dried fruit, nuts and seeds (toasted pumpkins seeds are great)
Blue cheese, feta cheese or chèvre

The dressing:
1 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil
1/8 cup maple syrup (this is the important part)
2 cloves minced garlic
salt and black pepper to taste

Slather with dressing and eat up!

A Generic Greens Recipe: Beans and Greens

There’s no particular recipe that I use when making beans and greens. For the non-vegetarians, there’s a couple of key ingredients that you’ll want to try to use. 1 – Broth… chicken, beef, pork – whatever, but that gives it a rich taste. A hambone is great too! 2 – a lot of garlic!

Above, I’ve linked to a google search for Beans and Greens recipes. I’ll give you the one I use from my head – but any of the ones above, will work, I imagine. (I like epicurious.com best)

Soak beans overnight and drain, and cook in new water the next day for a couple of hours until soft (or used canned beans). Any beans will do: Black, kidney, white, black eyed peas (which cook quicker if using dried beans).

Lightly sauté garlic and/or onions in butter, oil, or bacon grease, add beans and coat in garlicky flavored oil. Toss in your rinsed and chopped greens (chop stems smaller so they cook quickly) and stir around until nicely coated. Put the lid on the pan and let cook for a few minutes. Then, pour in meat or veggie stock and let simmer until greens are cooked and beans are heated through. Salt and pepper to taste. It’s nice topped with bacon too. This is a greens recipe that Evelyn has no qualms about eating.

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 Biologicalcreams, 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

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

September 15th 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 summer squash, broccoli raab, arugula, watermelon, and possibly winter squash and/or pineapple tomatillos!

Some Big News

At about 11 o’clock last night, I remembered that I had forgotten something. The newsletter! Yesterday was so busy with off-the-farm activities for me, that by the time I laid my head down, I just couldn’t pick it back up to write the newsletter.

So, here’s the big news: I’m pregnant! I’m at about 20 weeks and due in the beginning of February, just in time to get accustomed to life with a newborn before the apprentices arrive and life gets busy on the farm again. We’ve been waffling between having a home birth (Evelyn was born at home) or going to the Midwife Center. As circumstances dictated, for now, we’re going with the Midwife Center, which means a lot more testing and visits to doctors and hospitals. Not something I’m used to. So. Much. Waiting…. Evelyn was a champ and held it together for my blood tests, sonograms, and waiting rooms. It was a long day of waiting, which was capped off by Evelyn visiting with her pediatrician…. she has pneumonia, poor girl! We left her doctors office at 5:30 – just in time to hit the height of downtown rush hour traffic! We were so happy to get back to the farm!

While Evelyn and I were off the farm, the crew was busy holding it together! We’ve got a nice crop of Spinach, Dragon Tongue Beans, Beets, Radishes, Tatsoi, Arugula, and baby White Turnips coming up. It’s looking great, but needs some weeding. They also harvested our Red Kuri Squash, (which we may not have enough to go around yet). We have a nice crop of pumpkins, which aren’t quite ready – and are mostly carving pumpkins – so don’t feel tempted to buy one at the store yet!

Trevor and Mel from Community Human Services came by as well yesterday, to help Greg with our outdoor kitchen. When we host the “Big Share Dinner and Concert” (buy tickets and support multiple good causes!) on October 3rd, they plan on using our wood oven and grill. Well… the grill isn’t done yet! They spent the day helping to piece marble and lay tile and things are looking great!

Our deer fence, which I’ve been raving about all summer, is still working wonderfully, but…. there’s a design flaw. It’s an 8′ plastic mesh fence – which rabbits and/or groundhogs are chewing holes through and munching our crops. Groundhogs are relatively easy to catch, but rabbits…. they are tough! We’ve lost a row of lettuce to those guys and it’s not pretty! We need a good rabbit-catchin’ dog! Maggie isn’t fast enough.

Speaking of Maggie, some of you might have missed her in the barn last week. Last Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, she could hardly move and wouldn’t eat. She looked and acted like a 16 year old dog. So sad! I at once thought that it was a Limes Disease flare up and took her to the vet on Wednesday. They prescribed antibiotics for her and in about 36 hrs, she’s was back to normal. It’s been long week! I’m glad that everyone is on the mend now!

We need help!

If you or you know someone who has a relatively open schedule – we could use some more volunteer help on the farm. Specifically, for harvesting: Tuesdays 9 – 1:30 or Fridays 9 – 1:30 (we’ll provide lunch). For weeding: Mondays, Thursdays or Saturdays – anytime. Get in touch with Jen@blackberrymeadows.com and let me know if you’re interested! Thanks!!

A note from Woods Of Plenty: The Red Pines

The Red pines at the entrance of Blackberry Meadows Farm provide a great opportunity to create new food production at the farm. Woods of Plenty is currently transforming the stand into an accessible and experiential space for foraging and community interaction. This area shall serve the farm’s goal of providing non-toxic produce and enable those who visit the farm to take a step into nature away from the noise of their day for a session of pure enjoyment.Dropping all of their needles each year, Red pines do a great job at supporting the improvement of soil. The pine needles, dropped branches, and dead trees all play host to decompositional fungi, while the roots play host to mycorrhizal fungi. Both types of fungi assemble water stable aggregates – compounds built with sand, silt, and clay using organic glues produced by the fungi. These aggregates physically reduce compaction and increase the soil’s water, gas, and nutrient holding capacity. Through this increase in fertility, the Red pines, in both life and death, facilitate healthy growth in the understory.

When the canopy broke in the Red pines some years ago, both native and non-native vegetation began colonizing the openings. Often times non-native vegetation will not be balance with the local ecology. Bush honeysuckle, privet, bittersweet vine, multi-flora rose, and garlic mustard – all aggressive non-native plants – found a nice home in the Red pines at Blackberry Meadows Farm. Bush honeysuckle is particularly troublesome because it releases negative allelopathic chemicals into the soil, inhibiting desired native plants from thriving. Garlic mustard as well releases chemicals into the soil that prevents the formation of mycorrhizal relationships. Furthermore, the impact of non-native invasive plants in a forest extend well beyond altering soil chemistry, and include the loss of bird habitat due to improper plant structure and a decrease in not only the number of insects present but the number of species.

As we work in the Red pines, we are restoring strength to the local ecology to enable a booming ecosystem to manifest itself. We dynamically design to create with the existing vegetation and direct the forest’s immense energy towards the production of human food, establishing a Woods of Plenty. The native plant vegetation that currently exists is termed advanced regeneration. The management of non-native invasive plants while supporting this advanced regeneration takes skilled human labor, which we are happy to provide.

As we work we imagine this Woods of Plenty to be akin to a permanent corn maze: there is excitement in not knowing what is around the next bend, yet a visitor will feel safe as this space is open and protected. Our trellises, built with managed non-native invasive plants and desiccated Red pine branches, serve as the walls of the maze and are a place for growing grapes and cane fruit. They guide visitors through the Woods of Plenty to spaces that open up into rooms where the Red pines are the pillars that hold up a living roof. We imagine people sitting under the Red pine canopy on stumps or in hammocks on a hot day to find themselves cool and comfortable. In all cases, a visit in any season will result in finding food.

The forest will change and develop over the years as all things do in nature. Considering that it is a relatively young stand of Red pines this progression will see many new forms. The managed non-native invasive plants are now giving way to Black raspberries, Black elderberries, Sweet cherries, wild apples and wild grapes, with plenty of possibilities to grow more native fruit and nut producing plants. It takes an initial investment to make a Woods of Plenty, but afterwards all it needs is human interaction and enjoyment.

-Woods of Plenty

 

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.
Our first ever Movie Night will be Babe! We will 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. flashlights, and have fun!

Movie night is canceled if we have rain!

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

We need your help! With Garlic!

The great garlic planting is going to be upon us soon – and that means that we need to start “shucking” garlic. We’ve set aside the biggest and best bulbs of garlic as our “seed garlic” for the fall. We need help pulling the bulbs apart into cloves. Ultimately, we need about 10 5 gallon buckets of garlic bulbs. If you all take a few bundles of garlic home, shuck it and bring it back next week, that would be great!

In early October, we’ve got Sewickly Academy coming out with about 70 kids. We’ll have a power planting day with a bunch of student and get the job done in one day!

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 Heights, PA 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!

Some recipe ideas for this week:

I think arugula is a Love it or Hate it vegetable. I personally have a hard time eating it – it’s too spicy and bitter for me. That said, if I can doctor it up nicely – I can still eat it! So my trick for Arugula:

Balsamic Arugula Salad:

The salad:
One washed bag of arugula
Lots of other veggies (cherry tomatoes, peppers, squash, beets, onions, etc)
Dried fruit, nuts and seeds (toasted pumpkins seeds are great)
Blue cheese, feta cheese or chèvre

The dressing:
1 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil
1/8 cup maple syrup (this is the important part)
2 cloves minced garlic
salt and black pepper to taste

Slather with dressing and eat up!

A Generic Greens Recipe: Beans and Greens

There’s no particular recipe that I use when making beans and greens. For the non-vegetarians, there’s a couple of key ingredients that you’ll want to try to use. 1 – Broth… chicken, beef, pork – whatever, but that gives it a rich taste. A hambone is great too! 2 – a lot of garlic!

Above, I’ve linked to a google search for Beans and Greens recipes. I’ll give you the one I use from my head – but any of the ones above, will work, I imagine. (I like epicurious.com best)

Soak beans overnight and drain, and cook in new water the next day for a couple of hours until soft (or used canned beans). Any beans will do: Black, kidney, white, black eyed peas (which cook quicker if using dried beans).

Lightly sauté garlic and/or onions in butter, oil, or bacon grease, add beans and coat in garlicky flavored oil. Toss in your rinsed and chopped greens (chop stems smaller so they cook quickly) and stir around until nicely coated. Put the lid on the pan and let cook for a few minutes. Then, pour in meat or veggie stock and let simmer until greens are cooked and beans are heated through. Salt and pepper to taste. It’s nice topped with bacon too. This is a greens recipe that Evelyn has no qualms about eating.

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 Biologicalcreams, 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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September 7th 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 and…. Ground Cherries/Pineapple Tomatillos!!.

September Days

Have you and your family adjusted to the fall routines?  Kids are back in school, days are getting shorter…. and supposedly cooler.

Life is still the same here on the farm – it’s hard to believe that we are more than 1/2 way through the CSA and are already making plans for next year.  Now’s the time for you to give us some feed back – while opinions and wishes are still fresh in your mind.  If you plan on joining  our CSA next year, what would you like to see more of (keep in mind we still have 7 weeks left and greens will be back in fashion again), less of, how are the newsletters, farm events, produce quality and quantity?  Every couple of years, I’ll pull together a survey for you to fill out – but as most surveys go – only 15% or so members actually fill it out.

It’s so nice to see the fall greens coming up in the fields: Kale, broccoli raab, arugula, baby mustard mixes, radishes, turnips, etc.  Did I mention that our cabbage took a hit?  We transplanted it one rainy evening and the next day it was super hot and all cooked in the sun.  We took quick action and the above mentioned crops were seeded in it’s place.  They look great, albeit in a very rocky portion of the farm!

We also have ground hog/rabbit pressure.  They’ve taken to nibbling through our deer fence and grazing on the crops on the edge.  If you’re vegetarian/vegan/animal rights…. please skip to the next paragraph….  Some folks (with home gardens) ask how we control groundhogs. – we use a variety of traps – but have just been informed of the “Double Bubble Trick”.  I went out and bought a couple bags of bubble gum and Greg traipsed though the multiflora/poison ivy/bittersweet/grapevine tangle of our field edges and found numerous groundhog palaces.  Each hole gets a couple pieces of Double Bubble.  The groundhogs chomp down on the bubble gum and that’s that.  A lot easier for us, than checking traps every day.  As for rabbits….we don’t have a solution for them – although Maggie (our dog), does enjoy a good chase.

We’ve been canning and drying tomatoes  (71 quarts of pizza sauce and/or puree put up) and are trying to get up the gumption to can more whole tomatoes.  If you’re interested in canning some of our orange tomatoes (Dad’s Sunset) – we’re selling 25 lb boxes for $30.  They taste great, cook up to a good sauce, and are pretty!  Just remember to add lemon juice -to keep up the acidity.

Here’s a nice photo my Dad, Allan, took of our cherry tomatoes – what colors!

We need help!

If you or you know someone who has a relatively open schedule – we could use some more volunteer help on the farm.  Specifically, for harvesting: Tuesdays 9 – 1:30 or Fridays 9 – 1:30 (we’ll provide lunch).  For weeding: Mondays, Thursdays or Saturdays – anytime.  Get in touch with Jen@blackberrymeadows.com and let me know if you’re interested! Thanks!!

We’re all about farm immunity here!

Come out to the farm and build your immunity!  There’s nothing like a good lick from a cow!

“More evidence that the key to allergy free kids is giving them plenty of dirt and cows”

Here’s a link to a good cow lick video – Blackberry Meadows Facebook Page.

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.
Our first ever Movie Night will be Babe!  We will 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. flashlights, and have fun!

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

We need your help! With Garlic!

The great garlic planting is going to be upon us soon – and that means that we need to start “shucking” garlic.  We’ve set aside the biggest and best bulbs of garlic as our “seed garlic” for the fall.  We need help pulling the bulbs apart into cloves.  Ultimately, we need about 10 5 gallon buckets of garlic bulbs.  If you all take a few bundles of garlic home, shuck it  and bring it back next week, that would be great!

In early October, we’ve got Sewickly Academy coming out with about 70 kids.  We’ll have a power planting day with a bunch of student and get the job done in one day!

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!

Repeat from last week: 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

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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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