Monday, August 31, 2009

Annual CSA Party & Open House

Maysie's Farm Annual CSA Party & Open House will be on Saturday, September 12th this year. Party is from 4:00 PM on. We will have children's activities, a pot luck dinner, live music, Victory beer, and more! You can sign up at the farm, or just show up. The advantage of signing up at the farm is that you can see what dishes other people are bringing, and decide what you'd like to bring based on that list. But you can feel free to show up even if you haven't signed up — just bring along something delicious to eat!

Because this is an open house, guests are welcome. We look forward to seeing you on Saturday, September 12th!

Friday, August 28, 2009

CSA update - August 27, 2009

Green beans, wax beans, purple beans- beans, beans, beans! They are still looking beautiful, so bring your bags and fill them up!

If you have any pint or quart berry containers to spare, we could use them here!


ECOFEST '09 - Sunday August 30th in Kerr Park, Downingtown. 10 AM- 9 PM
The goal of this festival is to connect consumers with green businesses, farmers, artists and musicians in the community. Maysie's Farm is a sponsor of this event, and we will have a table there. Stop by and enjoy local food, music and art!

CSA Open House/ Annual Party: Join us Saturday September 12th for our annual CSA party. Bring your friends to introduce them to the farm and the work we do here! There will be activities, music and a pot luck supper. Please bring a dish to share. If you are interested in helping us during this event, please contact Annmarie.


Weeding!! The herbs in the rock pile are in need of some weeding. If you have some time during your pick up to stop by and help us clean it up, it would be greatly appreciated!


We are stocking our freezers full of chicken and salmon- When you take food, please be sure that the freezers seal and close tightly, as sometimes, the doors are open and the freezer begins to defrost.

We are now carrying Jeremiah Eldredge's chickens in the store. Jeremiah has whole chickens and parts. Unfortunately, our freezer started to defrost and we needed to move the pieces out of the freezer…… Monday people got to take advantage! We will be ordering more parts.
Prices for the chickens are as follows:
Whole Chicken: $3.30 per pound.
Boneless, Skinless Breasts: $8.70 per pound,
Thighs and Legs $3.60 per pound
Wings: $3.30 per pound..

Wild Alaskan Salmon:
A new shipment of salmon will be delivered on Monday August 31!


Thanks to member Sally McQuail for sharing this week's recipe for

Poblano Pepper Jelly

Sterilize 8 half pint canning jars, lids and rings
Core and chop poblano peppers finely, 4 cups total- throw in some hot peppers if you'd like!
Place in a large stockpot with a heavy bottom.
Add 2 cups cider vinegar
Add 1 package pectin (1.75 oz)
Stir. Bring to rolling boil.
Add 5 cups of sugar
Bring back to rolling boil, and boil for 1 minute.
Remove from heat and pour into prepared jars.
Process for 5 minutes in boiling water.

Sally also offers this great idea for blackberries!

Have you run out of ideas for blackberries, but can't stop picking them? Seed them through a fine sieve or with a Chinoise, and place four cup increments in freezer bags. In the winter, you can make jam with it, or our family favorite is to make sorbet for Christmas dinner.
See you around the farm!
Annmarie and Sam

Think Globally, Eat Locally
Maysie's Farm Conservation Center
15 St. Andrew's Lane Glenmoore, PA 19343

Thursday, August 20, 2009

CSA Update - August 20, 2009


The eggplants are continuing to thrive, as are the peppers. Bok Choy and Chinese Cabbage are available again.

The pick your own crops are going strong as well- as we continue to have beans, cherry tomatoes, hot peppers and very plump blackberries!

Labor Day is right around the corner. For those who are scheduled on Mondays, please note that the pick- up will be moved from Monday September 7th to Tuesday September 8th from 1-7 pm.


Canning Workshop Sunday August 23rd from 2-4 pm. You can still sign up for this workshop by calling, emailing, or signing up in the barn on Friday. Cost is $20

CSA Open House/ Annual Party: Join us Saturday September 12th for our annual CSA party. Bring your friends to introduce them to the farm and the work we do here! There will be activities, music and a pot luck supper. Please bring a dish to share.


Chicken: As mentioned in an earlier update, Jeremiah Eldridge will now be providing chickens for us. Jeremiah and Sam met when Jeremiah was 14 years old and working at Springton Manor Farm with Sam. Now he and his wife are farming sustainably in Coatesville! Jeremiah and Bridgette follow the highest standards for raising their chickens- they are truly pastured and fed only organic grain.

Jeremiah’s chickens will be available shortly, as we need to finish our supply of the chickens that Ben has provided for us in the interim. We are offering lowered price on Ben’s chickens this Friday- reduced from $3. 72 per pound to $3.50 per pound. Jeremiah’s chickens will be offered at lower prices.

Wild Alaskan Salmon: Steve and Jenn Kurian of Wild For Salmon will be delivering a shipment of salmon to us shortly! We also have some salmon left in the freezers to move out before our new shipment comes!


This recipe for Curried Eggplant comes from

3 lb Asian eggplants (about 6), cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick rounds
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons chopped fresh jalapeño chile including seeds
1 teaspoon yellow or brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
3 tablespoons oil*
1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup roasted cashews (1 1/4 oz), chopped

1) Toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon salt in a colander set over a bowl, then let drain 30 minutes. Rinse eggplant, then drain, pressing gently on eggplant to extract any excess liquid.

2) While eggplant drains, mash garlic, ginger, and jalapeño to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt using a mortar and pestle (or mince and mash with a large heavy knife and transfer to a cup), then stir in mustard and cumin seeds and turmeric.

3) Heat oil in a 5-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté onion, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add spice paste and cinnamon stick, then reduce heat to moderate and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

4) Add eggplant and cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in water, brown sugar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is tender but not falling apart, 20 to 25 minutes. Season eggplant with additional salt.

5) Discard cinnamon stick and serve eggplant sprinkled with cilantro and cashews.

6) Serve with Basmati Rice

*the best oils to use are coconut oil, ghee, butter or olive oil!!

See you around the farm!
Annmarie and Sam

Think Globally, Eat Locally
Maysie's Farm Conservation Center
15 St. Andrew's Lane Glenmoore, PA 19343

Thursday, August 13, 2009

CSA Update - August 13, 2009

The summer crops have finally enjoyed a couple of days of summer heat (and we have all been complaining about the oppressive humidity!)

The eggplants are especially beautiful this year. You will notice that we have a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. The same cooking styles can be used for the different eggplant, as their taste and texture seem to be similar. They are especially delicious when brushed with olive oil and sea salt and placed on the grill! You could also add zucchini, peppers and onions.

Changing your Pick up Day: Please remember to notify us if you need to change your pick up day. You may do this either through the online ordering system, or by calling, emailing or writing a note on the pick-up list. We try to harvest the crops to provide for the exact number of shares expected each day. If you show up on a day when you are not scheduled, you will be taking someone else’s food. We apologize to those who did not receive lettuce on Monday - we noticed that at least 4 people came unexpectedly.


Listed below are the remaining classes and workshops scheduled throughout the month:

Please note that the Seedlings Cooking Classes are $10 per child.

Friday August 14th 3-4 pm- Seedlings Cooking Class for 9 through 11 year olds:
Cold Zucchini or Cucumber Soup
Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches
Blackberry Smoothies

Monday August 17th- 4-5 pm- Seedlings Cooking Class for 12-18 year olds:
Italian Eggplant Spread (Caponata)
Green Bundles
Garden Salad with Herb Dressing

Sunday, August 23rd- Preserving the Harvest : Canning Workshop with Liz Alakszay
2-4 pm $20 per person
This is the first workshop in a series given by Liz, an avid vegetable and small fruit grower in Chester County. This workshop will answer questions related to canning such as:
Why and how do you can?
How does canning preserve the food?
How do you store canned items and ensure that they are safe?
Various processing methods and equipment will be discussed and displayed. The participants will work along with the instructor to use the boiling water canning method to apply these concepts create their own canned vegetables. The specific vegetables will be determined based on availability.

FOOD INC. - This pivotal movie about the industrialized food system opens Friday August 14th at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville. The Maysie’s Crew is planning on going to opening night- please join us! The movie starts at 7 pm. Also, on Wednesday evening, August 19th, there will be a discussion led by Liz Anderson of Charlestown Cooperative Farm and Dan Heckler of Jack’s Farm after the showing. Below is an excerpt taken from the film’s website:

“Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our environment.”

One of the recipes this week comes from CSA Member Kelly Pipich, who says that this soup is delicious - and it uses everything you can get this week- including the purslane!!

Chilled Zucchini Soup with Purslane

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
8 small zucchini (3 pounds), thinly sliced, plus long zucchini shavings for garnish
Kosher salt
3 cups water
2 tablespoons finely shredded basil
2 cups ice
Freshly ground pepper
2 cups purslane or baby arugula

In a large saucepan, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat until translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in the thyme and bay leaf and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sliced zucchini, season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Discard the bay leaf and stir in the shredded basil.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until very smooth. Transfer the zucchini puree to a large bowl. Stir in the ice. Refrigerate the zucchini soup for at least 3 hours, until thoroughly chilled.

Season the soup with salt and pepper. Ladle into shallow bowls and top with a small handful of purslane and zucchini shavings. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

And, to use up those eggplants, here is a recipe from a website:

Eggplant Catalana
4 large eggplants
1 medium size onion
garlic to taste
1 cup oil
1 pound fresh tomatoes
6 walnuts
fresh parsley
1 cup stock

Cut the eggplant in slices crosswise, with their skin, sprinkle with salt and let rest 10 minutes. Drain, dry and fry in hot oil. Put aside.

In an earthenware pot with a little oil, fry the peeled and minced garlic, with the peeled and minced onion. When done, add the peeled tomatoes cut in small pieces, and when cooked, add the eggplant.

Salt and pepper to taste, and then add the walnuts, processed coarsely in a food processor and stirred in the cup of stock.

Cook at very low heat until not too liquid. It is served in the earthenware pot in which it was cooked, and can be served with a fried egg per person if desired.

See you around the farm!
Annmarie and Sam

Think Globally, Eat Locally
Maysie's Farm Conservation Center
15 St. Andrew's Lane Glenmoore, PA 19343

Thursday, August 6, 2009

UPDATE- Tomato Blight, Workshops, Recipes


Unfortunately, we have our second major disaster of the season to report, and this one makes the total failure of our corn crop seem fairly insignificant. Our tomatoes have been hit by the Late Blight that you may have heard about in the news (such as the front page story in July 16th’s Inquirer). We have already cut and burned about 90% of our twelve hundred and some tomato plants. The fungus, Phytophthora, (“Plant Destroyer”, the pathogen responsible for the Great Irish Potato Famine of the 1840’s) apparently travelled from Florida, where it can overwinter, to the northeast on tomato seedlings sold by “big box” stores. Then the relentlessly cool, wet weather conditions we experienced for most of the last two months proved to be ideal for it to proliferate. In moist conditions, an infected plant will shed spores that can be carried by the wind for many miles and can then be washed down from the air by rain falling on innocent, unsuspecting, even dearly beloved tomato plants. Once infected, plants quickly release more spores and die. So we’ve invested about two weeks worth of the firewood I use to heat the house, forty-five gallons of used vegetable oil (courtesy of the restaurant next door) and many, many man-hours to burn the infected plants – beautiful plants with thousands of beautiful green tomatoes patiently waiting for warm nighttime temperatures to trigger their ripening. I’ve never had to do anything like this before, destroy a beautiful crop. But we’re not the only ones suffering from the blight – all of the other CSAs in the area that I’ve heard about have been devastated as well.
It’s unusual this year that the weather is directly responsible for our biggest problems. Sure, the weather is always a concern, but in most years, the labor situation is more likely to be the cause of our greatest difficulties. We’re very lucky this year to have a great team of Workers and Interns persevering against the obstacles put in our path by Nature (or by Global Climate Change, the disruption of Nature) and I’d like to encourage you, when you get the chance, to acknowledge the hard work they’ve done to bring you your food. However, I should mention, this is the time of year when we can expect to lose some Interns as they head back to school or off to their next adventure. So if you know of anyone looking to learn about the (often harsh) reality of organic vegetable production, please send him or her my way.
Thanks for your support -


We have organized our schedule of classes and workshops for the month of August listed below
You can register for the events by calling 610-458-8129 or emailing:

Monday August 10th- 4-5 pm- Seedlings Cooking Class for 6 through 8 year olds:
Vegetable Quesadillas with Salsa

Friday August 14th 3-4 pm- Seedlings Cooking Class for 9 through 11 year olds:
Cold Zucchini Soup
Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches
Blackberry Smoothies

Monday August 17th- 4-5 pm- Seedlings Cooking Class for 12-18 year olds:
Italian Eggplant Spread (Caponata)
Green Bundles
Garden Salad with Herb Dressing

Saturday August 22nd- Canning Workshop with Liz Alakszay
Come learn the basics of canning as a way of preserving the summer harvest.
(Date subject to change- more details to follow……)

In the Garden:
Purslane: Friend or Foe?
Friend, definitely! This weed which is now growing rampantly in some of our beds is perhaps one of the most nutritious greens you can find. As far as Omega 3 fatty acids are concerned, purslane takes the lead in supplying the most alpha linoleic acid of any green crop.
Recorded use of purslane dates to at least to the Middle Ages, when it was particularly popular with the Greeks, as a citrus-like addition to fish. Medicinally, the Greeks considered purslane a blood tonic. It is used frequently in Latin American cooking. We have included a recipe for purslane this week. Go ahead, be adventurous and give it a try. We have the beds marked where you can find it!
When you get the purslane home, wrap it in a damp towel and keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. (I hear the stems can be pickled, but I haven’t tried it yet!)

Another interesting addition to the farm this year is shiso leaves. We have an abundance of the purple shiso and the green is beginning to come up nicely. Shiso is described as “Japanese Basil” or “Japanese Mint”. The flavor of the leaves is pungent and grassy with tastes of spearmint, basil, cinnamon and hints of curry…a bit complicated! The leaves are delicious to add to Mesclun mixes or sprinkled over cucumber salads, cabbage salads or fish. You can also add shiso to green tea after it has been steeped. So, go ahead and pick a leaf or two and see how you like it!!

We have the option of providing chicken of the same quality as Ben’s at a lower price to you. Jeremiah Eldridge, a local farmer has begun raising chickens this year. He is not certified organic, but uses organic feed and his chickens are out on pasture. We have tasted them and they are quite good. This generation of chickens is a bit larger than what you might expect. In order to provide these chickens, we need to first free our freezer of the chickens in there now…..

3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/3 inch thick
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 pound plum tomatoes, chopped
1/4 pound purslane or arugula, torn
1 large cucumber—peeled, halved, seeded and cut into half-moons
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped mint
Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and let cool.
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and vinegar and season with salt. Break the potato slices into quarters and spread on the bottom of a large, shallow bowl. Season with salt and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the dressing. Layer the tomatoes over the potatoes, followed by the purslane, cucumber, onion, jalapeño, parsley and mint. Just before serving, pour the remaining dressing over the salad and toss well.

See you around the farm!
Annmarie and Sam

Sunday, August 2, 2009

SAITA presents Pleasant Pastures, Diversified Amish farm marketing

Pleasant Pastures is a 67 acre Amish organic farm in Honeybrook, PA. In attendance this past Saturday were 4 interns and 3 general public from the Philadelphia area. Benuel and Anna Stoltzfus and their nine children work this idyllic farm in western Chester County, raising grass fed beef and Jersey milk cows, free range chickens, pigs, rabbits and one sheep for weed control. They also grow fruits and vegetables, mostly for home use. Ben employs 3 part-time helpers in addition to his family's contributions. 

Bought by Ben's dad in 1983, the farm was originally conventional and used pesticides and chemical fertilizers. By the early 1990's the Stoltzfus's had switched to organic methods, realizing that even with chemicals and herbicides they weren't getting enough weed control. By chance, Ben had discovered his back fields that had escaped the sprays, actually had less weeds through cultivation, than the near fields receiving the spraying. Full transition to all organic practices occurred soon afterwards.

At the beginning of our workshop, we discussed milk prices and marketing, since Ben has been producing and shipping raw organic milk for sale since 2000. He suggests that pricing for farmers is even lower now than in the 1960's. Farmers get $1.05 per gallon of conventional milk, which simply can't cover their costs. Many small dairy farms are predicted to close down this winter because of the failure to achieve higher pricing. Ben said that in the mid 1980's the price was up to $14/hundred lbs but that imports and politics have affected current pricing, which has dropped to $11/hundred lbs.

 According to Ben, the PA Milk Board does not have a clear floor on pricing. I found an interesting historical forecast at this 2006 Cornell article. Another more recent link to information on the drop in prices can be found here. The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund suggests there is a glut of dairies producing organic milk and that the demand has dropped with the current recession. And you may be interested in reviewing thesecommentaries about the issues on NODPA (Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance).

An excerpt from Francis Thicke's comments about the pricing mechanics in the dairy sector: 

"During recent years, the dairy marketplace has become increasingly concentrated, to the point that monopoly power now appears to play a role in setting dairy prices. Economic literature indicates that if four (or fewer) firms control 40% of a market, that market no longer functions as a competitive market. Today, just one firm purchases 34% of the milk produced by U.S. dairy farmers. That firm, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), also has marketing agreements with other dairy purchasers, leading industry analysts to estimate that DFA by itself indirectly controls over 40% of the commodity milk market.

To add to this growing monopoly power within dairy marketing, the retail food industry has undergone major consolidation in recent years, resulting in a few large grocery chains controlling the majority of retail sales of U.S. dairy products. What can be done? For one, the federal government needs to enforce antitrust laws. We need Teddy Roosevelt-style action to bring back competitive markets.

Recent massive imports of dairy products are contributing to the havoc within dairy markets. According to recent data, the equivalent of 20,000 semi tanker trucks full of skim milk were imported into the U.S. during one month’s time in the form of milk casein and milk protein concentrates (MPC). It has been reported that much of the imported MPDC has not been subject to FDA safety testing. After the contamination we saw in Chinese dairy products, this is more than an academic concern." 

The consumer has a choice and can affect the market by making a statement with their purchases; buy from local dairies or farmers markets and health food stores and bypass the big box stores and retail supermarkets. 

In an average year Ben is able to produce 35 lbs of milk per cow per day. Much of it goes directly to cheese markets. Ben raises organic hay using no pesticides and has found that since grain prices have increased along with oil increases, it's more economical for his cows to be grass fed. He does grow some organic wheat to feed his cows in the winter, but this spring was difficult with all the rain that we had. He also grows Sudan grass for feed. However, it takes from 2-3 years to switch cows and he has been most successful in switching his young calves. Pasturing livestock is tricky because you can easily ruin your field through over grazing; cows will eat to the ground. Ben allows 2 Acres per every 2 days for his cows and moves them when the grass is at 2".

In early 2003 and through 2005 the organic milk market exploded and Ben was able to go direct to the consumer. He became involved with Maysies's farm in selling his products.  He also got involved with the CARE program, a private club of 30 or so mostly Amish and Mennonite, with 2 'English' farmers based in Lancaster. They work to help market local products, including sending his grass fed beef to drop-off points in Virginia and Long Island, and provide a legal defense fund for protection from liability and other issues. 

Ben has a well on the property near the house, but to get it out to the fields for his 39 milk producing cows, he needed to run 700' of 1/2" line laid into a trench. The challenge was pumping it up 90' out of the ground and then more than 60' feet up to the fields. He uses a 275 gallon tank filled with water to empty into tubs to water his 12 Belgian and standard carriage horses. He uses a gas engine to power the fan in the barn used to cool off the horses and the breeding bull that we saw relaxing in a back stall.

His beautiful Belgians pulled us through the fields on a farm tour after the workshop. We saw the Jersey cows grazing under the shade of trees towards the back of Ben's property. He was concerned about getting too close and making them nervous, 'they don't need to be panting in this heat'. It was obvious that Ben takes exceptional care of all his farm livestock, but he did mention an axiom that I'd never heard before;'Where there's livestock, there's dead-stock'. Meaning that every winter, they lose one or two animals to disease or some unforeseen event. He has had to manage mastitis in some of the cows, although he's begun using homeopathic remedies, probiotics and vitamin C with some success. He also sees improvement in their health on his rich, organic soil. 'When the soil's more alive, everything else is too.'

For extra energy and to help with milk production, he adds liquid cane molasses to the cow's winter hay feed. His 1100 free-range laying hens provide Kimberton Whole Foods with eggs and he found another farmer to help raise broilers for sale. He has 2 sows with a new litter of 16 piglets just days old, and sends his larger meat hogs to a custom butcher for slaughter. 

Anna and Daniel make yogurt, butter and cottage cheese in a front processing room, equipped with butter churner and whey strainer for the cottage cheese. There is also a compressed-air powered egg grader called the Egomatic, which ingeniously conveys the eggs down a conveyor belt to measure and drop into a basket. I was waiting for an 'I Love Lucy' moment, but Anna had it under control. I found one machine listed in the NJ Museum of Agriculture, noting:  "Egomatic" Egg Grading Machine (electric), ca. 1940, made in Titusville, NJ by Otto Niederer Sons, Inc. and sold worldwide. Proving that farmers reuse and recycle better than anyone else.

Other main costs for the Stoltzfus's are fuel: oil and propane prices. Ben stated that rising oil prices from last year took all his averaged profits for the last two years; he paid $600-700 for propane and $900 a month for oil. 

He doesn't like using plastic, but this past season had to bring in someone to wrap his hay bales in an effort to help dry them out. There is cost incurred with the plastic and then he has to find some way to dispose of it. 

Thanks to Benuel and Anna for a wonderful workshop and tour, and insights into Amish organic farming. We also appreciated meeting their delightful children, who helped dish out our post workshop/tour homemade ice cream. It was delicious and I highly recommend a trip out to the farm to pick up a quart of vanilla or chocolate, or both! Also be sure to try some of their rich and healthy raw milk, yogurts and cheeses. They also offer handmade local soaps, honey and herbal hand salve in the barn shop.

Next SAITA workshop on Integrating Livestock into the CSA at Sankanac CSA is Saturday August 8th from 11am-1pm in Kimberton, PA. 

Happy growing! See schedule and addresses for workshops here.

Victoria Webb

SAITA Coordinator