Monday, September 28, 2009

SAITA presents Pennypack Farm, Community Started Agriculture

Fred Beddall, Farm Manager of Pennypack Farm in Horsham, PA, led a series of questions for the 7 interns and 3 speakers who attended this workshop on Saturday, September 26th. Speakers included Margot Bradley, Pennypack's Program Coordinator, Amy Johnson representing Red Hill Farm and John Fowler from Anchor Run Farm in Wrightstown Township.

Fred moderated the session, asking a series of questions that ranged from how the farms originated, to infrastructure and operations and how funding processes were developed. He also followed up with details about shares, which crops are grown and finally asked how the farms had each found 'good fortune' and evolved profits. Some of my video is challenged from the gusty winds that day, but you can turn up the volume to hear the audio.
video

Red Hill Farm CSA: Amy Johnson is the former Director of Farming Operations from Red Hill Farm in Aston, PA. The farm's  6 acres is in its 8th year of production, on a 183 acre tract owned by the Sisters of St. Francis. The Sisters generously bought everything, including two high tunnels, and other equipment required to run the farming operation. Luckily they already owned mowers, backhoes and bobcats with an auto shop and heated greenhouse with potting shed on the premises.
video
Amy was paid full-time with benefits as manager at Red Hill and they offered 3 interns $100/week with 3 meals a day. One of the interns received housing but the other two were local. The second year the Sisters hired her husband as a co-farmer and the CSA doubled. However, since the rules forbade women and men living together, this became a hardship for housing issues. The small trailer on the land wasn't large enough to support two adult men, and women interns didn't always show up in pairs. The solution was hiring local help at $10/hr - no benefits.
The CSA supported 100 people the second year and they offer 10 workshares. In exchange for 100 hours a season, the farm offers a share. Members are required to work 4 hours weekly.
video

Red Hill applied for a $40k grant to put solar panels on the barn, supplying energy to the well. They have a strong core group of 10 people who were there from the beginning, helping with fundraising, orientation and on pickup days. They work with their members to coordinate farm products, newsletters and office type jobs.
Red Hill has participated in potlucks and fundraisers to save for necessities like a walk-in cooler and composting toilet even though the Sisters cover most items. The farm supplies food for the 70 to 80 member convent and there is also a large retirement center on the property. Although children are welcome in a designated garden, the living situation for women and men is not ideal and families who want to work and live on the farm would find this a challenge.

Anchor Run CSA: John Fowler, a professional geologist and member of the Wrightstown Township EAC, was raised on a small farm and has been with Anchor Run Farm since they began. The space was purchased by the township through a planning grant with the support of 2500 residents and supervisors. The CSA was begun through a master plan developed through a grant given by the PA Dept of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). The process to organic farming has been gradual, and John mentioned that most farmers in the area still rely on outdated methods; using Roundup and mono-cropping corn or soybeans. Anchor Run does have issues with drift from these treated fields that can compromise their organic beds.
video

The farmers on Anchor Run own all the mobile equipment like tractors and mowers, and the township, through a combination of financing assets, maintains the deer fences, greenhouse, existing barns and homestead. Anchor Run used grants from the state to drill a well and had an Energy Harvest grant for solar panels that power the well and cooler. Volunteer labor was used to help build the deer fencing, greenhouse and hoophouse. The township provides one house at a reduced rental rate for a farmer.
Two farmers live on site and pay rent to the township. They employ and pay out of their own pockets, the 3 interns at $10/hour - no benefits. The farmers make their income from 180 CSA shares, from 230 families. They have 75 families currently on their waiting list and offer a small discount off the $750/share fee to Wrightstown residents.

However, John admits that the last farm managers had two young children and were barely able to sustain themselves. With no affordable healthcare or retirement funding, they decided to move to Israel and work a Kibbutz where housing and healthcare costs are covered. Fortunately they knew how to operate and set up a farm before they arrived at Anchor Run, so that a system was in place after their departure, for subsequent farmers.

There is an active core group at Anchor Run, which helps to operate the CSA and website, scheduling and interaction with the farmers. They have benefited from highly supportive township supervisors, state grants and advertising on PASANOFA and other farm sites. The Bucks County Foodshed Alliance is a local entity that offers much support for the area. Check out Anchor Run's website for some great ideas. They offer a newsletter, recipes, events and links to other farmers markets in the area.

Pennypack Farm CSA: Pennypack is unique in that it's both a farm and a non-profit education center employing Andy Andrews as the full-time Farm Director, Fred as the full-time Farm Manager, both with full benefits, and Margot Bradley as the center's half-time Program Coordinator, along with 2 seasonal farm workers. Initially called farm interns, the second year workers are elevated to 'farmer' status. Mid-season intern Jessica Gerani was there to answer any questions about her own experience.


Margot Bradley was one of the original founders of the farm in 1999. Now coordinating projects, writing grants and developing new programs for the non-profit center, she talked about its origins. In March of 2003 the land was basically barren. By May they had a CSA up and running and hired a farm manager, offering full benefits. Two years ago the farm was able to support a second full-time farmer with benefits, and local interns were brought in to help during the season. There is no available housing and they have never had unpaid internships. The center has as its core value a 'living wage', even though in the past this has sometimes been beyond their reach. Over 30 workshare members bring in the harvest on about 8 acres and help with distribution. All members have workshare duty at 4 hours/share or can buy them out at $60.
video

From their website:
'Pennypack Farm grew from the commitment of a handful of citizens who responded to a letter in a local newspaper (Ambler Gazette, April 2000) suggesting the formation of a community farm for the purpose of accessing fresh, local, organic produce and preserving land within our watershed. Initial dialogues among these committed citizens grew into a vision and a plan for action. The organization gradually took shape over the next two years, finally culminating in early 2003 with the formation of an 11-member Board of Directors, the signing of a lease for land to grow crops, the hiring of a farm manager and assistant, and receiving official charter as a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit corporation.'


Starting with 90 shares, the CSA increased to 100 the second year, and the share model was changed to units in 2006. Pennypack offers units in two different sizes; a large share equals 10 units/week at $675, the smaller share is 6 units/week at $450. The unit is approximately a bunch or 1 lb, members are trained to weigh the produce and a limit for units is set on whatever is not abundant at the time. There are sign-in and out sheets for workshare members, a long-time volunteer board member usually overseeing these time management tasks.

This year they hired a professional bookkeeper and plan to increase the share prices in 2010. Margot says they also plan to expand to having 14 acres in production over the next few years.
In addition to the CSA, Pennypack offers a Local Foods Market in their pickup building, open to members 3 days a week from 2:30pm to 7:30pm. Margot proudly showed off the two new coolers she'd picked up from a liquidation company located in Princeton, NJ - and they even deliver!

In 2009 Pennypack's farming program will operationally break even, not including equipment purchases. $70k is raised yearly from individuals and grants to support capital improvements and educational programming. The goal is to have a 3 month operational pad. 

The education center offers a low income summer camp and partners with the College Settlement of Philadelphia, their land-lease host who who has owned the 253 acres since 1973. The community landowners are a non-profit with their own board, offering the farm a one year revolving lease. Wonderful educational signs identifying farming techniques and methods are situated in front of crops and various garden beds; secured through a grant, they explain to both children and adults the benefits of sustainable farming, like no-till, beneficial insects and crop rotation.


Margot suggests that the Local Foods Market at the farm will begin generating more profits as it becomes more well known. Greeters work the register and network with the local community. There is an outreach volunteer and they are expanding events and potlucks, adding activities like cooking demonstrations, and family campfire evenings. Giving the public an opportunity to participate and help is an effective way to build membership and visibility in the community.
The final agreement was that while all three farms are sustainable, none are yet making much of a profit.



With more public support-through pledges to buy from local producers- and with a variety of funding and creative efforts, farming has a very good chance of becoming profitable in urban communities. The state of Illinois just passed a bill making a commitment to restructure the food system to promote local consumption. Vermont launched a Keep Local Farms program this month and the Mayor of San Francisco pledged this July to create a Sustainable Food Mandate for the city, reputed to be one of the most ambitious food policies in the country. There is renewed hope for local farming!

We appreciated the different aspects and challenges of each farm startup and heartfelt thanks to Fred, Margot, Amy and John for sharing their individual goals and 'good fortunes' with us.

Stay tuned for the last SAITA presentation of the season on October 3rd, 11am to 1pm at Shellbark Hollow Farm. Topic will be a Cheesmaking workshop and farm tour, with special appearances by Maggie and others.

Happy fall and best wishes for a productive and healthy winter!
Victoria Webb
SAITA Coordinator
vic@furiousdreams.com

ps Happy Cat Organics will be offering a tomato seed saving workshop on October 9th at the Fermentation Festival in Kennett Square. Tim's workshop with us has been cancelled for this season.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

CSA Update- Happy Autumn!

Happy Autumn to everyone! Can you believe we are entering a new season? It seems that summer passed much too quickly, but there are so many things to look forward to now: cool, crisp days, warming squash soups, spiced cider. The evenings are now becoming chilly and the traditional first frost day is right around the corner- October 1st.  Once the frost hits, we will no longer have eggplant and peppers. So, go ahead and pick those hot peppers before you lose your chance! You can preserve the peppers by freezing, drying, or pickling (or use them in your fermented vegetable mixes!)

 

Speaking of pickling and fermenting, we held PART II of our food preservation workshops…. For all of those who came, we hope you are enjoying your fermented cabbage and pickled peppers! Liz Alakszay who taught us how to pickle and can this year has provided websites for information about freezing your harvest: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/gen_freeze.html and

 http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/pdf/pnw/pnw296.pdf

 

October is turning out to be a busy month, and there are a lot of events occurring around Chester County:

 

Sunday October 4th, 6 pm Maysie's Farm Harvest Full Moon Pot Luck Dinner.

 This will be our last get together of the season. Please mark your calendars to join us then!

 

Friday October 9th Kennett Square Fermentation Festival: Join Harvest Market and Kennett Square Farmers' Market for their first annual Fermentation Festival from 2-6 pm. There will be demonstrations in yogurt making, seed saving, kimchi and kombucha making and homemade herbal medicines. There will also be tastings by Zukay Live Foods, GT Synergy Drinks and local breweries. Stop by for the Fermentation Fever! For more information, go to http://ksqfarmersmarket.wordpress.com

 

Saturday October 10th, Longwood Gardens- 2 events to benefit PASA:

10am- 2:30 pm- Guided Walk of Sustainable Longwood-  A 2 hour behind the scenes walk where you will learn about Longwood's commitment to sustainability (composting, water treatment systems, farm lease programs). The walk will be followed by a locally sourced casual lunch. Price is $35 for PASA members; $55 for non members.

6:00 pm- 9:30 pm Harvest Celebration Dinner – Enjoy a scrumptious locally produced meal in the ideal setting of the Longwood Conservatory. Price $150.

See the store for flyer and details.

 

Saturday October 17th- Phoenixville Area Time Bank Fundraiser – It's About Time Dance Party at the Moose Lodge, Phoenixville 7-11pm. Come out for an evening of dinner and dancing to help support the Time Bank- a nonprofit organization made up of a community of neighbors who provide services to one another – there is no money exchanged- only time. For more information on the Time Bank or to become involved, go to www.pa-timebank.com . Tickets for the dinner are $30 in advance, $35 at the door. Look for the flyer in the store.

 

And, for your listening pleasure this fall, you can check out the Moondawgs'  myspace site. Many of you who attended our Open House have been inquiring about where Sue and Paul play. Visit them at www.myspace.com/moondawgs for listings.

 

 

 

RECIPE:

The tomatillos are coming on in field 2. Tomatillos or "tomate verde" as they are known in Mexico are staples in Mexican cooking. They are members of the nightshade family and are related to the tomato. Tomatillos are only about the size of a large cherry tomato. They have an inedible green husk that needs to be removed before cooking.

Here is a recipe for a Tomatillo Salsa (or Salsa Verde), which also utilizes some of those hot peppers!) This recipe comes from a website : www.whatscookingamerica.net

2 large fresh Anaheim chile peppers*
1/2 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed, diced**
1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 large green onions, chopped
1 large serrano chile pepper, stemmed, seeded
1 large garlic clove
1/4 cup (firmly packed) fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon half & half, heavy cream, sour cream, or whipping cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (optional)

Sugar, white or brown (optional) ***

Char Anaheim chilies directly over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag; let stand 10 minutes. Rinse off all of the blackened skin and then chop the chilies.  NOTE: Remove seeds for milder flavor. Warning:  Wear gloves when working with the chilies and don't rub your eyes.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add tomatillos, chicken broth, green onions, serrano chili, and garlic in medium saucepan; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until mixture is reduced to approximately 1 2/3 cups, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes.

Transfer mixture to blender. Add charred Anaheim chilies, cilantro, and cream. Puree until smooth. Season salsa with salt and pepper. Add lime juice.

Can be made 1 day ahead. Transfer to small bowl; cover and chill. Can be served warm or chilled.

Variation:  Mash an avocado or two with a fork, then stir into salsa. The avocado adds a nice texture and richness to this salsa.

Makes approximately 2 cups.

 

 

 

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
(610)458-8129 www.maysiesfarm.org

CSA Update- Happy Autumn!

Happy Autumn to everyone! Can you believe we are entering a new season? It seems that summer passed much too quickly, but there are so many things to look forward to now: cool, crisp days, warming squash soups, spiced cider. The evenings are now becoming chilly and the traditional first frost day is right around the corner- October 1st.  Once the frost hits, we will no longer have eggplant and peppers. So, go ahead and pick those hot peppers before you lose your chance! You can preserve the peppers by freezing, drying, or pickling (or use them in your fermented vegetable mixes!)

 

Speaking of pickling and fermenting, we held PART II of our food preservation workshops…. For all of those who came, we hope you are enjoying your fermented cabbage and pickled peppers! Liz Alakszay who taught us how to pickle and can this year has provided websites for information about freezing your harvest: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/gen_freeze.html and

 http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/pdf/pnw/pnw296.pdf

 

October is turning out to be a busy month, and there are a lot of events occurring around Chester County:

 

Sunday October 4th, 6 pm Maysie's Farm Harvest Full Moon Pot Luck Dinner.

 This will be our last get together of the season. Please mark your calendars to join us then!

 

Friday October 9th Kennett Square Fermentation Festival: Join Harvest Market and Kennett Square Farmers' Market for their first annual Fermentation Festival from 2-6 pm. There will be demonstrations in yogurt making, seed saving, kimchi and kombucha making and homemade herbal medicines. There will also be tastings by Zukay Live Foods, GT Synergy Drinks and local breweries. Stop by for the Fermentation Fever! For more information, go to http://ksqfarmersmarket.wordpress.com

 

Saturday October 10th, Longwood Gardens- 2 events to benefit PASA:

10am- 2:30 pm- Guided Walk of Sustainable Longwood-  A 2 hour behind the scenes walk where you will learn about Longwood's commitment to sustainability (composting, water treatment systems, farm lease programs). The walk will be followed by a locally sourced casual lunch. Price is $35 for PASA members; $55 for non members.

6:00 pm- 9:30 pm Harvest Celebration Dinner – Enjoy a scrumptious locally produced meal in the ideal setting of the Longwood Conservatory. Price $150.

See the store for flyer and details.

 

Saturday October 17th- Phoenixville Area Time Bank Fundraiser – It's About Time Dance Party at the Moose Lodge, Phoenixville 7-11pm. Come out for an evening of dinner and dancing to help support the Time Bank- a nonprofit organization made up of a community of neighbors who provide services to one another – there is no money exchanged- only time. For more information on the Time Bank or to become involved, go to www.pa-timebank.com . Tickets for the dinner are $30 in advance, $35 at the door. Look for the flyer in the store.

 

And, for your listening pleasure this fall, you can check out the Moondawgs'  myspace site. Many of you who attended our Open House have been inquiring about where Sue and Paul play. Visit them at www.myspace.com/moondawgs for listings.

 

 

 

RECIPE:

The tomatillos are coming on in field 2. Tomatillos or "tomate verde" as they are known in Mexico are staples in Mexican cooking. They are members of the nightshade family and are related to the tomato. Tomatillos are only about the size of a large cherry tomato. They have an inedible green husk that needs to be removed before cooking.

Here is a recipe for a Tomatillo Salsa (or Salsa Verde), which also utilizes some of those hot peppers!) This recipe comes from a website : www.whatscookingamerica.net

2 large fresh Anaheim chile peppers*
1/2 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed, diced**
1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 large green onions, chopped
1 large serrano chile pepper, stemmed, seeded
1 large garlic clove
1/4 cup (firmly packed) fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon half & half, heavy cream, sour cream, or whipping cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (optional)

Sugar, white or brown (optional) ***

Char Anaheim chilies directly over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag; let stand 10 minutes. Rinse off all of the blackened skin and then chop the chilies.  NOTE: Remove seeds for milder flavor. Warning:  Wear gloves when working with the chilies and don't rub your eyes.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add tomatillos, chicken broth, green onions, serrano chili, and garlic in medium saucepan; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until mixture is reduced to approximately 1 2/3 cups, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes.

Transfer mixture to blender. Add charred Anaheim chilies, cilantro, and cream. Puree until smooth. Season salsa with salt and pepper. Add lime juice.

Can be made 1 day ahead. Transfer to small bowl; cover and chill. Can be served warm or chilled.

Variation:  Mash an avocado or two with a fork, then stir into salsa. The avocado adds a nice texture and richness to this salsa.

Makes approximately 2 cups.

 

 

 

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
(610)458-8129 www.maysiesfarm.org

Sunday, September 20, 2009

SAITA presents In my Backyard at Misty Hollow Farm, Small Scale CSA

September 19th, autumn is officially here. Sally and Jim Hammerman of IMBY at Misty Hollow won big points from the 7 interns (and me) who showed up on this lovely Saturday morning, by offering us a spread of dark french press coffee, herbal tea and donuts in their charming circa 1750 kitchen. Their 2 suburban acres in Westtown, PA backs up to a school soccer field and is jam packed with the fruits of their efforts from over the past six to ten years; vegetable and herb gardens, a mini-orchard of apples, pears, two young apricot trees, grape vines along with blackberry, raspberry, and blueberry bushes.

The couple began the workshop by serving refreshments and telling us a little about their respective backgrounds. Sally is an artist, teacher and nurse and Jim is also a teacher and self taught carpenter. Both avid gardeners finding themselves with quite a bit of surplus, they decided to begin a small CSA a few years ago, mostly just for family and friends. Beginning with just 10-12 members working as core members of the LLC based CSA, the Hammermans have expanded to about 30 members. They offer half or full shares and ask members to work either 40hrs or 80hrs respectively.


Sally and Jim originally required this work time commitment in exchange for a reduced shareholder buy-in. To fulfill the farm needs, however, they were 'policing' members' time in the garden. So at one of the first gatherings they held for members, they asked for suggestions on how to manage work time. The result was a tiered solution to be fair to both the farmers and the members; charge a top buy-in price which can be worked down over the growing season- or not, as each shareholder wishes. For those who do work, hours accumulate and they are paid back. It's not a 'living wage', but the satisfaction of participating in the garden seems to provide more than the money (Sally suggests that perhaps it could be called a 'wage to live by'). Although some of the work time is with other activities, 50% of it must be spent in the garden working. A sign-in sheet helps in tracking time and a CSA manual clarifies procedures.

Misty Hollow also sells value added products on the farm; honey from a local beekeeper, garlic, dried tomatoes, roasted peppers in oil, goat cheese, herbs, postcards and t-shirts. Sally grows an extensive herb garden and also offers herbal bath salts, a garlic salve called 'Goot' and herbal oils and vinegars.  My Great PumpkinKimberton Whole Foods and Pete's Produce are a few of the retail stores that offer Misty Hollow non-food products. Look for the Green Man or Garden Goddess logo. You can find this on their site .

There is a living space with bath above the workshop in the lovely barn that Jim built, fitted out with a pot bellied stove and friendly calico cats for company. They have had interns live there, and out of season, it's offered to guests and friends. There are farmer-in-training workshops offered for 8-11 year olds and 'Fun on the Farm' days for 4-7 year olds. Westtown school has been assisting Misty Hollow with these two programs.

For a fundraising event to raise money for their high tunnel greenhouse, the Hammermans held a 'Gaze and Graze' silent auction. They offered an automatic 20 work-hours to those members who organized and greatly helped in raising the much needed $2500. Among other things, friends donated an apartment for a NYC weekend, a restored boat house for a Vermont long weekend, and a Long Beach Island house for a relaxing week-at-the-beach. The result not only got the Hammermans their high tunnel, but it was a community building effort that has spilled over into their Fall Harvest and May Meet and Greet festivals.



Offering Tuesday and Friday pickups, Sally and Jim also devised a shareholders skill-set list that they give out to members for bartering or trading. The offerings range from Thai massage, Reiki therapy and hypnotism, to used cars and micro-lending progrms. There is even someone who runs an eco-village in Mexico with time shares available. It appears that you're only limited by your own imagination as to what you choose to sell, swap or trade.

Another facet of Misty Hollow's creative take on farming and sustainability are the wonderful workshops they offer. Pizza making, dandelion wine production, preserving, canning and making pies - they offer something for everyone's interests. There are also children's workshops that offer games; like presenting the kids with closeup photos and asking them to find the object on the farm.

One point brought up by Maysie's intern Erin Raser, was the importance of being centrally located. Jim admitted that their proximity to shopping centers and a large population doesn't hurt. We've heard this from other CSA host farmers as well, the advantage of high visibility. Another important point that Sally and Jim emphasized, is the advantage of running a smaller and more manageable CSA. It seems to allow them a creative latitude in developing ideas for promotions and community building efforts that we hadn't heard about from the larger scale farm CSA's reviewed in the SAITA workshops this season.

One of the current members, Anna, happened to be out in the garden working and we got to hear some of her reasons for joining Misty Hollow's CSA: she and her husband don't have enough knowledge or sun in their own yard to support a substantial amount of produce.
This way they get to participate in the growing process and also have a much wider variety of items than might be found in a grocery store or even a farmers market. If she does need to drive somewhere, nurseries and markets are nearby.

That's a 40 solar panel field array that provides 80% of the Hammermans' electricity. They bought the panels at a time when tax credits were offered and aggregators now combine solar credits for the property. The house also has a spring in the basement, providing fresh water and irrigation to the gardens. It's attractive to toads who eat more than their share of bad insects and are a welcome addition to any garden. Jim had two 150 gallon stock tanks joined together and plans for a third 300 gallon to give them 600 total. There is a small greenhouse for Sally's herbs, the high tunnel and a separate greenhouse with shed for starting seeds. Black plastic is used for weed control, but it's biodegradable and breaks down in one season.


The pick-up shed was an $1800 mail order package from Vermont's Jamaica Cottage, which has manufactured post and beam structures since 1995 and delivers the best looking chicken coops outside Lancaster, PA. Their Vermont cottage would make an awesome studio space for any artist.

The spiffy blue Italian made BCS 11 horsepower tiller has a Berta rotary plow attachment that Jim raved about. His rotation includes white clover, winter rye and oats that he's trying in one area. Always working towards sustainability, Jim and Sally follow the model of wasting nothing on the farm and ask members to return veggie residue and scraps for composting.

Other practices include storing kelp and fish emulsion in large drums near the cooler shed that houses a couple of old fridges, planting Russian comfrey at the base of apple trees for companion planting, and a software program exclusively designed for the CSA farmer, including ideas on what to plant and the ability to fax seed orders. I'm not sure that this is the same program from Back40Books, but it looks similar.

Many thanks to Jim and Sally for their gracious farm tour and the highly informative talk. (and the donuts) We learn so much from each and every farmer and there are new processes to discover at each workshop!

Stay tuned for the next SAITA presentation on Saturday September 26th, 11am to 1pm at Pennypack Farm. Topic will be Community Started Agriculture with a twist. Farms and CSA's begun by groups of regular folks. Three farms will be presenting.

Happy fall! See schedule and addresses for the last remaining workshops here.
Victoria Webb
SAITA Coordinator
vic@furiousdreams.com

Thursday, September 17, 2009

CSA Update

 

Thanks to all those who joined us on Sunday at our Annual CSA Party. Unfortunately, we needed to cancel the day on Saturday due to the inclement weather, but Sunday was just beautiful!

As usual, the Moon Dogs (Sue and Paul McKenna) contributed their talents and provided wonderful entertainment into the evening- thank you so much!

 

We are having our Harvest Full Moon Pot Luck on Sunday October 4th, beginning at 6 pm. This will be our last get together of the season. Please mark your calendars to join us then!

 

 

There is still room to join us this Saturday:

Pickling/Fermentation Workshop – Saturday September 19th- Join us for this workshop to learn about how to preserve your harvest. We will cover the differences between pickling and live fermentation and show you how to do both!  Cost $20 Time- 11 am

 

 

We are once again stocked with Jeremiah's Chickens- they are in the freezer.

 

We have a lot of Sweetwater Bread and Cookies in the freezer. Please help us use these up so we can order more fresh ones. The breads are just fine when defrosted and toasted slightly.

 

RECIPE:

Glazed Turnips and Carrots

This recipe from www.epicurious.com will help you utilize those delicious turnips- both the white and red variety!

1 pound baby turnips (about 2 pounds with greens attached) or regular turnips

3/4 pound baby carrots (about 2 pounds with green attached)

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Trim turnips and carrots, leaving about 1/2-inch stems if green were attached, and peel if desired. If using regular turnips, peel and cut into 1-inch pieces. In a steamer set over boiling water steam turnips and carrots separately, covered, until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Vegetables may be prepared up to this point 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled.

In a large heavy skillet cook vegetables in butter with sugar and salt and pepper to taste over moderately low heat, stirring, until heated through and glazed, about 4 minutes.

 

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
(610)458-8129 www.maysiesfarm.org

Saturday, September 12, 2009

CSA party postponed until Sunday September 13!!!

Greetings!

Due to the inclement weather today, we have decided to postpone our CSA Annual Party and Open House until tomorrow, Sunday September 13th beginning at 4 pm.

We think the day will be so much more pleasant tomorrow if we are not concerned about the constant mist and possible down pours!

We are planning to have all of the same activities!

 Please join us tomorrow!

Hope to see you there!

Annmarie and Sam


Think Globally, Eat Locally
Maysie's Farm Conservation Center
15 St. Andrew's Lane Glenmoore, PA 19343
(610)458-8129 www.maysiesfarm.org

CSA PARTY & OPEN HOUSE POSTPONED UNTIL SUNDAY, 9/13!

Please note that today's (9/12/09) Maysie's Farm CSA Party and Open House has been postponed to SUNDAY, 9/13, due to rain. We'll see you tomorrow starting at 4PM, for lots of fun, food, live music, and kids' activities!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

CSA Update

It's beginning to feel a bit like fall already!

The stir fry greens have certainly been abundant! Some new things to look forward to include broccoli, daikon, lima beans and fresh shelling beans.

 

Remember that our CSA Open House/ Annual Party is this Saturday September 12th at 4 pm No worries if you haven't signed up, just show up! It is a great opportunity to meet other CSA members and partake in a great meal! We will have music and activities beginning at 4 pm. The potluck dinner will begin at 6 pm.

Bring your friends to introduce them to the farm and the work we do here!

 When you come on Saturday, you will see a sign for parking on St. Andrew's Lane, shortly after the Church playground. Please park in the lot up behind the greenhouses and walk down to the farm.

 

Pickling/Fermentation Workshop – Saturday September 19th- Join us for this workshop to learn about how to preserve your harvest. We will cover the differences between pickling and live fermentation and show you how to do both!  Cost $20 Time- 11 am

 

Harvest Full Moon Potluck Dinner – Sunday October 4th 6 pm. That's right- it's fall again! Join us for the full moon to celebrate the fall harvest!

 

RECIPES:

      Daikon is an incredibly versatile vegetable. Also known as the Japanese Radish, it has a crisp texture and a slightly peppery taste. When eaten raw (like at a sushi restaurant), daikon has the ability to help digest fats. It is also effective against many bacterial and fungal infections and it contains a substance that inhibits the formation of carcinogens in the body…… all that in one root!  

      To eat it fresh, you can grate it and add freshly squeezed ginger juice and some soy sauce. Or, slice it into thin rounds and add it to salads.

      Below is a recipe for braised daikon- with this recipe, you can also make use of the nutritious daikon greens (or add some of the stir fry greens) Braising the daikon brings out its sweet taste

  BRAISED DAIKON:

Butter, coconut oil, olive oil

1 daikon radish, washed and cut into thick rounds (tops washed, cut and reserved)

Water , chicken stock or vegetable stock

Zest of 1/2 lemon

Sea Salt

Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add oil to coat the bottom of the pan.

Add the daikon rounds, being careful to spread them out in a single layer.

Allow the daikon to brown slightly on one side. Gently turn and begin to brown the other side, taking care not to burn it.

Sprinkle with sea salt

Add about 2 tablespoons of liquid (water, chicken stock or vegetable stock).

Add the cut up greens and stir gently.

 Immediately lower the heat, cover and let simmer until daikon softens and the liquid evaporates.

Season again with salt as needed and add lemon zest. Serve hot.

See you on Saturday!

Annmarie and Sam


Think Globally, Eat Locally
Maysie's Farm Conservation Center
15 St. Andrew's Lane Glenmoore, PA 19343
(610)458-8129 www.maysiesfarm.org

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

SAITA presents Fernbrook Farm, CSA - Creative Partnership

Interns are returning to school, but we did have 4 attend the workshop this past Saturday, September 5. Fernbrook is a 400 acre preserved third generation farm of good sandy loam located in Chesterfield, NJ near large populations of people. The people/market quotient is half of what makes the farm's 260 memberCSA work, according to Farm Manager Jeff Tober. Owner and family patriarch Larry Kuser hired Jeff in 2006 after interviewing quite a few folks. They met via the NJ Farm Link program and Larry suggests that Jeff had as many hard questions for him as a landowner as he did for Jeff.

Some of those questions involved the infrastructure that the farm already provided; water, greenhouse, parking, equipment and community contacts. Jeff gave us great handouts that itemized some of these challenges. He suggests that when reviewing a farm to develop a possible CSA, you should be aware of either advantages or disadvantages that the land offers. If you're renting or leasing from a landowner, make sure you paint a visual picture of how the process will look and be specific. Remember that some people like the idea of running a farm and have a more romantic, rather than practical, vision. Fernbrook is diversified - there is a wholesale nursery and tree farm that Kuser has operated since the early 1980's, they offer a charming circa 1750 Inn and locale for weddings, and there is an Education Center and summer camp for children. Fernbrook Farms Education Center is the NJ liaison of the National Farm to School Network, working to advance greater knowledge about nutrition and health for schools and youth.



Kuser suggests that preservation of farmland is increasingly important as communities grapple with development and local fresh food sources. As people become aware of the concept of shipping distances for food contributing to global warming, they are also beginning to take responsibility for their own health. Questioning the relationship between nutrition and disease has compelled large numbers of urban citizens to seek out farmers markets and CSA's for their food sources. Jeff also maintains that value is a big motivator and spends time educating the public about the holistic spectrum of farming and the environment, health and fresh foods.

The CSA began in 2007 with 65 shares and is fast approaching Jeff's goal to financially break even. In the third year of production, his staff of 1 full-time apprentice (Rob Ekman, working on his memoir 'The Apprentice Who Cried Himself to Sleep') and 2 part-time apprentices (Brooke McGinn and Jennifer LaMonaca) work 10 acres. Jeff hires hourly labor as needed, during the summer months. The CSA also has a full-time bookkeeper to keep them on track. For an overview of farm happenings and seasonal challenges, you can read Jeff's newsletters here.

There is no delivery, folks can choose one of two days weekly for pickup at the farm store and there is a weekly and Saturday 'UPick' offered as well. When Jeff has surplus he offers discounts. Except for potatoes, everything is offered by bag, which makes combining produce a bit easier than weighing. For example, if he has only 60 melons, he'll replace those with another choice extra in the bag for those who didn't get a melon. (Jeff plans to replace the current plastic bags with biodegradables, so if you have any ideas send his way)

The farm also raises young pigs for sausage, pork and bacon, about $6.50 per lb in the shares- at our visit there were about 11 piggies happily milling around in their pen, charming the local children- and sells some chicken from a local farm near Princeton. In addition, the store offers Bob Hughes' Buzzy Bees honey and eggs, along with a few books.
The farm shop was the original stable on the farm, recently expanded and an 8'x10' walk-in cooler was added on top of a poured concrete pad. An ingenious cooling system was added via a small Energy Star window air conditioner and a 'CoolBot' device. No need for a costly compressor, Jeff says this system is a lot cheaper. The 10 acres for the CSA are watered by a well on site, with drip irrigation. Other parts of the farm farther away are watered via the traditional overhead system. Row covers like Remay are used for seedlings and spinach gets a deer repellent spray. This year Jeff trapped 35 pesky groundhogs.

Jeff uses a 5210 John Deere tractor for disking with a spader and power spreader. He mows the cover crops, lets it sit for a week, than uses the spader. He also employs a 1982 International 274 that he bought for $6200 with 600 hours on it. Rob demonstrated the Buddingh wire basket weeder's magic, and they use a Dibbler and a Planet Jr. seeder.

With a 75-85% renewal rate, Fernbrook has accomplished one of the more important tasks to building a CSA, forming trust with their customers. There are also advantages to being close to other farmers and specifically, Jeff orders his yearly seed with Honeybrook Farm, one of the largest CSA's in the country. Jeff suggests that an empty field is extremely high risk and to remember that infrastructure is immensely helpful in setting up a partnership with a landowner. Someone who has farming experience will most likely be a better candidate.

He advises attending a workshop that will help in fleshing out ideas; 'Exploring the Small Farm Dream', offered in various states in conjunction with the New England Small Farm Institute. Fernbrook's CSA is now close to accomplishing Jeff's projections and he's thinking about offering winter shares and adding another 25 acres to the project. He admits that expansion might increase inefficiencies. It's easier to control the process when you start small. His mantra; don't give your customer too much food or over promise food. In other words, manage their expectations and keep them happy.

Jeff builds on one customer base at a time and tries to stay personally involved with all of his. I watched as people came into the farm shop, calling Jeff by name, their young toddlers high five'ing him. It was a happy sight.

Stay tuned for the next SAITA presentation on Saturday September 19th, 11am to 1pm at Misty Hollow Farm. Topic will be the Small Scale CSA with a business workshop - and possibly a canning demo.

Happy harvesting! See schedule and addresses for workshops here.

Victoria Webb
SAITA Coordinator
vic@furiousdreams.com