August 24th 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, Squash, and Cukes.

In the height of summer

Summer is just about over for you, isn’t it?  Kids are going back to school and the daily schedule of School, Dinner, Homework, and Bed are imposed.  But for us, it feels like we’re just at the peak of summer.  You can tell around here by the general morale of the crew.  It’s easy to become disgruntled when working long hours and chipping away at endless (seeming) tasks, like harvesting tomatoes.  Last Thursday and Friday were late nights (up to 10:30 pm) and apprentices are starting to have tomato dreams.

I always give the same pep-talk every year.  August is tough, but it won’t last…. we are at the peak of our game now – but the days will get cooler and shorter and the lighter (and faster to harvest) crops will be coming back (arugula, spinach).  We all have to keep our motivation up and get through August…. we’re so close to Fall!  We’re working long hours and it feels like we’ll never catch up (which we won’t, but that’s OK).  We’re pushing to get the last of the fall crops planted, keeping up with weeding and irrigation (it’s been so dry!) and staying on top of the harvesting.  Oh!  I forgot to mention that we’re canning tomatoes like professionals too!  We’ve put up at least 30 quarts of Pizza sauce, for all those future Pizza parties here.

Don’t get me wrong.  This is the toughest and best part of the season!  “We eat like kings and work like dogs!” – Greg

Next Month:  Outdoor Movie Night!! Sept 19th   Please RSVP

We’re excited to try out a new idea – we’re going to have a 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!

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!

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.   

Look for Red Raspberry Jelly!

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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August 17th 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, Apples, Squash, and Cukes.

Here we are, at the half-way mark, Week 10

Greg is still fighting with that tractor.  He said he wanted to flip it over, down the hill and into the neighbors yard.  It’s a small enough tractor, I think he could do it!  There’s something up with the fuel line, so he installed a second fuel filter and that seems to have helped for now.  That means: we have herbs (cilantro and parsley), baby mustard mixes, and crazy radishes (Nero di Tondo, Watermelon, and Scarlet) seeded finally!

We’ve been busy putting the broccoli, kale, cabbage, leeks, lettuce and bok choy in the fields and have been taking advantage of the dry weather to get some tractor work done.  We’ve been running irrigation a lot and now we’re praying for rain!  Greg has harvested his first field of hay ever!

Even though our deer fence is amazing… it has a flaw.  It’s not keeping the wild turkeys out of the field.  They’ve been pecking at our tomatoes and now have discovered our watermelons!!  We’ll try covering the melons with row cover and hope that the bees can still find their way in to continue pollinating.

We also have baby ducks!  Our Mama Muskovy duck has hatched about 15 ducklings!!

Next Month:  Outdoor Movie Night!! Sept 19th   Please RSVP

We’re excited to try out a new idea – we’re going to have a movie night at the farm.  We’ll choose a ‘kid friendly’ movie -(recommendations are welcome!), 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!

Play Date at the Farm!

Last week we had a small group of kids.  Again a quick visit to the barn and the rest of the morning was spent on the playground and the sandbox.  We’ll do another one next friday 9:30 – 12:00.  It’s a great opportunity for your kids to get some farm time!

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

Hay Fever

New York Times Article

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).  She’s been teaching Kindermusik in the Alle-Kiski Valley for 15 years now!

Kindermusik

1212 Carlisle Street

Natrona HeightsPA  15065 

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.   

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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August 10th 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), tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, tomatillos, garlic, peppers (purple and green), and herbs.

Repeat from last week: 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!

Mid-summer is here, already?

We planted the last of the season’s beans (Dragon Langerie and Gold Rush) and about 3000 feet of Detroit Dark Red Beets.  In the midst of the beet seeding, my tractor, the Allis Chalmers G (1952) conked out.  I’m not mechanically inclined, so I call my Mechanic – Greg.  The poor guy is up to his eyeballs fixing things and I’m sure it’s the last thing he wants to here “the G died in the field again, can you help me?”  He said he couldn’t….  At that point, I took a stick and beat that tractor, really I did.  But it didn’t help.  About an hour later (after Dawn and I seeded the whole field by hand), Greg and a Garden Share member of ours (who’s also mechanically inclined) come out, adjusted the idle and I’m on my way.  I hate it when things break down, but we’re a farm on a budget and don’t really have any new equipment – fixing things is the norm.

We took our annual vacation to Lake Erie this past weekend.  It’s kind of a rite of passage – we leave the apprentices alone at the farm to run the whole thing (for about 36 hours). It was nice to be off the farm for a short while…. when we’re here, we can’t sit still for long before thinking; “do the cows need water? Has the greenhouse been watered? Isn’t there a tractor to fix?”.  It’s always nice to decompress a bit!   Now that we’re back and recharged, we’re ready for the next half of the growing season.  So far it’s looking a lot better than the spring did!

 

This may be the LAST CSA Potluck for the year!!
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!

We had a nice little turn out for the playdate this past Friday.  Three other kids were here to check out the farm.  We visited all the animals, learned about harvesting lima beans, ate raspberries and played on the playground.  We’ll do another one next friday 9:30 – 12:00.  It’s a great opportunity for your kids to get some farm time!

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

Hay Fever

New York Times Article

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).  She’s been teaching Kindermusik in the Alle-Kiski Valley for 15 years now!

Kindermusik

1212 Carlisle Street

Natrona HeightsPA  15065 

Cumin Crusted Chicken Thighs with Tomatillo Salsa

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) canola oil
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz/30 g) Cumin Crust Rub

For the Tomatillo Salsa

  • 7 large tomatillos, papery husks removed, and cut in half
  • 1 jalapeño chile, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (3/4 oz/20 g) chopped fresh cilantro
  • Kosher salt

PREPARATION

1. In a large bowl, combine the chicken thighs and oil. Toss to coat the thighs evenly. Transfer the thighs to a platter and sprinkle evenly on all sides with the cumin rub. Set aside at room temperature.

2. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling over medium heat; the temperature inside the grill should be 350°—375°F (180°—190°C). If using charcoal, bank the lit coals on either side of the grill bed, leaving a strip in the center without heat, and place a drip pan in the center. If using gas, preheat the burners, then turn off 1 or more of the burners to create a cooler zone. Brush and oil the grill grate.

3. To make the salsa, place the tomatillos and chile over the direct-heat area of the grill. (You’ll probably need a grill screen for the chile or you’ll lose it through the grate.) Cook, turning as needed, until well charred on all sides, about 3 minutes. Transfer the tomatillos and chile to a blender, add the lime juice and oil, and pulse until combined but still chunky. Transfer to a bowl, fold in the cilantro, and season with salt. You should have about 2 cups (16 fl oz/500 ml). (The salsa can be made up to 1 week in advance and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

4. Place the thighs, meaty side down, over the indirect-heat area of the grill. Cook, turning once, until the thighs are nicely grill-marked on both sides and firm to the touch and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh away from bone registers 170°F (77°C), 10—15 minutes on each side.

5. Transfer the thighs to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes. Serve at once with the tomatillo salsa.

the game plan

  • Make rub; coat chicken with oil and season with rub
  • Set up grill for indirect grilling over medium heat
  • Make tomatillo salsa
  • Grilling time: 20–30 minutes
  • DON’T FORGET: Try to turn the thighs only once so they develop nice grill marks.

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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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

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

July 27th 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, scallions, peppers, herbs and greens.

Now that Summer is finally here….

We don’t have air conditioning in our house….. in fact, it’s one of those houses that’s hotter inside than out.  Which kind of works for us – as if you’re going to be hot, you might as well be outside and doing things than inside…. hot and bored.  Also, the transition between going inside and out isn’t as dramatic.  I think your body acclimates to where you are and really, Summer isn’t that bad when you don’t have air conditioning to compare it to.  That said, I’m glad I’m not in Florida now!

It didn’t take long for me to say it – but we could use a bit of rain!  We had the irrigation running on the tomatoes, peppers, and cucurbits (cucumbers and summer squash).  Matt griped a bit about the tomato stakes being pounded through the irrigation hose and the main manifold nestled in a bed of extra poisonous looking poison ivy.  But these guys are all troopers and are stepping up to the challenge.

We say, once we get through August, we are over the hump, and after the 2nd week in September, things get easier.  Although I’ve never run one, I liken veggie farming to running a marathon.  For us, there’s this point (especially for the newbie apprentices) where you wonder how much more you can take; how many hot days, late nights, early mornings, weeds, poison ivy, deer damage, insect infestations, and back aches can you take?  But we just push on a little harder and that’s when we can see the finish line.  The amazing heirloom tomatoes and sungold cherry tomatoes give us that extra ‘umphh’ as we cruise on to the ending…. light weight crops!  Kale, lettuce, arugula, and spinach! and the beautiful colors of fall that we are blessed with here in Western PA!

IMPORTANT – Blueberries!

Hunter Farms, in Erie, has started picking Organic Blueberries!  These are the best around, although comparatively, a little pricy.  It’s definatly worth it – as these are the sweetest, biggest blueberries you’ll ever have.

You can still order a flat of 12 pints for $65 or buy individual pints for $5.50 (limited).  (They freeze super well!)  We sell them at the farmers market for $6 and they fly off the table!

Just email jen@blackberrymeadows.com and place your order, along with your pick up date (especially if you’re a 1/2 share).  Blueberry season just began up in Erie, so we should be taking orders for  couple of weeks.

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

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

July 20th 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, beans, cucumbers, garlic, scallions, cabbage? , purslane, maybe more, but. . . . it’s getting tough out there with all the rain in June/July!  

Confirmed: It’s hot out!

I think there’s times that I get so wrapped up in the current drama of the farm (too much rain), that I forget how quickly things can change.  We’ve had 3 days of hot muggy weather and I’m already thinking about irrigation….  That said, if we can squeeze by with a few more days of dry weather, Greg is going to have marathon tractor work.  There’s so much that needs to be mowed (brush hogged), roto-tilled, mulched and planted.  We have one field (about 1/2 acre) of kale and another of cabbage and broccoli to be planted for the fall.  I’ve got to get back onto my succession planting of beans (can be seeded up until mid-august), carrots and beets.  It’s also time to get leeks into the ground and dig garlic up.  Just one week of dry weather would be great!  We’ll take hot and muggy if we have to!

IMPORTANT – Blueberries!

Hunter Farms, in Erie, has started picking Blueberries!  These are the best around, although comparatively, a little pricy.  It’s definatly worth it – as these are the sweetest, biggest blueberries you’ll ever have.

For next week, you can order a flat of 12 pints for $65 or buy individual pints for $5.50.  (They freeze super well!)  We sell them at the farmers market for $6 and they fly off the table!

Just email jen@blackberrymeadows.com and place your order, along with your pick up date (especially if you’re a 1/2 share).  Blueberry season just began up in Erie, so we should be taking orders for  couple of weeks.

Here’s Evelyn, hocking blueberries in 2014!

CSA Potluck July 18th -Stay tuned for the next one!

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!  Please stay tuned for the next date!

Market District as our CSA member?

An amazing thing happened this year.  Giant Eagle Market District in Waterworks subscribed to our CSA.  This pilot is a bold statement about our hometown grocer making an investment in our farm.  Our economic risk and stress levels go down as the number of shares we sell increases.  Ideally, the CSA subscriptions would pay for our cost of operations for the whole year, allowing us to make profits on farmers markets and supplying Penns Corner which are critical to expanding the farm operations and acquiring new tools and training.  That said, when we have lean years, the markets don’t get priority, our CSA members do!

As a large and efficient food retailer, Giant Eagle is making this risky investment along side all of our subscribers!  With all the rain we have been getting, it’s uncertain what kinds of crops are going to make it through till fall… yet Giant Eagle is taking on some of the risk with all of us.  It makes us feel proud to be from Pittsburgh, where our locally owned grocery store won’t settle for simply purchasing wholesale from the local farmers. Wholesale, while the dominant method for selling produce for most farmers, simply doesn’t provide the ‘risk management’ because the farmers don’t get paid if the crop fails.

CSA on the other hand is a commitment to pay for the service of producing food… and this preseason payment ensures that the farm will continue to operate year after year.  It is a risk management plan that a farmer can rely on because the subscriptions are paid regardless of the harvest.  Our responsibility as farmers is to ensure that everyone gets an abundance of crops, all on an equal level. We also strive tp provide the food in a way that inspires community interaction, in the barn, in the fields, around the table.

At the grocery level, this type of investment is extremely unique.  Marty’s Market in the Strip District was the first grocer to pilot this model for one year with us in 2013. With one store front, and a small and flexible staff, they were able to make it work.  Giant Eagle is a bit of a different phenomenon.  The accounting departments in large companies are known, encouraged, and even required to knit-pick every transaction, ensuring that money isn’t spent frivolously and that a known quantity of inventory is received and “accounted” for in the ledgers.

A subscription to sellable inventory simply isn’t done.  We cannot predict what will be harvested, when it will ripen or how many weeks we will have it… a situation that would ordinarily drive accountants crazy!  However, because we strive to provide a weekly share value of the distributions which exceeds the average weekly subscription cost, our produce goes to our subscribers typically below wholesale value.  

The theory we are testing is whether Giant Eagle can make profits on the produce being sold out of the shares we are delivering. We have our fingers crossed that all goes well with this pilot.  If it does, our regional produce sections could wind up containing an abundance of local farm products from regional farms within the next few years.

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

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!

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:

I think we’ll be hitting you again with Purslane.  Here’s another recipe for a turkish dish – yogurt and purslane.  I bet it may taste similar to a cucumber Raita.

I’m sure you’ll have no problem cooking up fresh beans.  They are the best!  But here’s an old standby recipe for a great bean salad: 

Summer Green Bean Salad

Prepare:

¼  cup pine nuts (roasted on a dry skillet)

1 lb green beans (boiled, then rinsed with cold water)

Combine in a large bowl:

3 Tbs olive oil

1 small onion, diced

3 Tbs white wine vinegar

½  tsp Dijon mustard

2 medium scallions, chopped

2 Tbs fresh dill, chopped

1 Tbs lemon zest

Salt & Pepper

Add green beans and top with roasted pine nuts. Chill.

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

July 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: Scapes (almost done!) carrots, cabbage, chard, purslane, maybe more, but. . . . it’s getting tough out there with all this rain!  

Summer is here, right?

Last week we had about 3 1/2 inches of rain.  This upcoming week looks rather wet too.  After talking with other farmers at the markets and commiserating, it sounds like we’re all going to be in the same boat pretty soon.  The multitude of overcast days (no sun) and cool weather are slowing crop growth and spreading disease.  The excess rain has leached away our fertilizers and we’ll have to side-dress everything for a boost.  Luckily – that deer fence is doing its job and we’re not losing crops to deer as much as we have in the past!

It’s times like this that the strength of “community supported agriculture” comes through.  You all have invested in our farm and are prepared to take the good with the bad.  I’m starting to worry that harvests may be lean for a couple of weeks until some crops come in:  Our tomatoes are looking great (no Late Blight, knock on wood) and the beans are full of flowers.

We’ve got watermelons, cantaloupes, and winter squash coming along – but no where near harvesting stage.  Our summer squash, cucumbers, and peppers are looking good, but still need a few more weeks till harvest.  We will most likely buy in some items to fill the CSA until our crops bring things up to par.  It’s stressful, and not fun to have something so out of control as soggy, weedy fields and a bunch of folks depending on us!

So far you all have been supportive (and seem happy with your shares), but I’m anxious about that coming to a screeching halt and you not prepared for the real reason why.  We hope to make up for any deficit in the CSA later in the season.

Hopefully this isn’t too much of a downer newsletter – I try to keep it real and not overly sanguine!

Sam had friends visit from Brooklyn NY this weekend.  They pushed up their sleeves and put a hurtin’ on the weeds in our bean patch.  We’ve got 8 triple rows of yellow wax and royal burgundy beans on their way to fruition!  Thanks guys!!

CSA Potluck July 18th

Please click on this link https://www.eventbrite.com/e/blackberry-meadows-summer-potluck-tickets-17665562172 to attend our CSA potluck.  It’s  free event – but by signing  up through eventbrite, we can help determine what kinds of dishes we’ll have.

The last potluck was a raging success and we hope this one will be too!!  Hopefully the weather will be nice for us!

Invite friends, bring kids, games, picnic blankets/ chairs and an appetite!

Did you see Sundays Paper?  We’re in the news!

http://triblive.com/lifestyles/fooddrink/8592820-74/farm-blackberry-organic#axzz3fhXuwTg4

Play Date at the Farm!

Starting on the first friday in August (the 7th), we’ll be hosting a playdate here at the farm.  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!

Pasture Raised Beef:

We are going to take a Heifer to be processed this week.  If you’re interested in buying some pasture raised grass fed beef – let me know.  It won’t be ready until next week or the week after.  Again, like the piggies, you can buy a 1/4 or a 1/2 of the heifer.  We’re charging $3.50 per lb hanging weight.  You’ll then have to pay the processing fee.  This is our first time having a heifer processed, so I’m  not sure what to expect weight wise – but I’m thinking she’ll come out to a hanging weight of 400-500 lbs…??  Let me know if you’re interested!

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:

Something you’ll be getting this week – which you may not be used to is Purslane.  Its a super green that is just becoming popular.  Here’s a nice recipe for Purslane and Parsley salad.

It’s a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids.  “Purslane is somewhat crunchy and has a slight lemony taste. Some people liken it to watercress or spinach, and it can substitute for spinach in many recipes. Young, raw leaves and stems are tender and are good in salads and sandwiches. They can also be lightly steamed or stir-fried. Purslane’s high level of pectin (known to lower cholesterol) thickens soups and stews.”

from: Mother Earth News:

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