Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Windy day!

WOW! I know every region has the SAME saying, but you know what they say...

If you don't like the weather, just wait 20 minutes, it'll change!

And change it did! Yesterday was a drizzly, but warm day for Janurary at 50. All our snow melted, and made the feild a mucky mess.

This morning, 14 degrees, wind chill 7 below, and wind gusts up to 60 mph! BRRR!!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ark of Taste: Garden List

The following is a list of varities we have already ordered from Slow Food's Ark of Taste: Hidatsa Red Bean, Lina Sisco's Bird Egg Bean, Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce, Tennis Ball (Black Seeded) Lettuce, Amish Pie Squash, Boston Marrow Squash, Sibely Squash, Moon & Stars (Van Doren) Watermelon, Amish Paste Tomato, German Pink Tomato, Red Fig Tomato, Beaver Dam Pepper,Bull Nose Bell Pepper, Jimmy Nardello's Sweet Italian Frying, Sheepnose Pimento Pepper, Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry

We are still sourcing some seeds, including a couple items from Italy's Ark of Taste.

We are so excited for all the yummy tastes that 2008 will bring!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Learning weekend...

This was a good weekend.

On Friday, my husband went to a hoophouse workshop. We are getting ready to purchase a 16x28 heated hoophouse for our starts (so, unlike last year, we don't have to bring them in and out of the barn twice a day!) so we wanted to make sure we were on the right track.

But the coolest piece of information we got was not about hoophouses but about about grafting. All your fruit trees are grafted, and most grape vines, and I guess in Japan lots of vegetables are to! What we can do is take an heirloom start and graft it onto a non-heirloom rootstock. This way we can get lots of the dieses reistance of the non-heirloom plant and still get the fruits of a heirloom. And since there is no genetic transfer or anything like that you can still save seed from the fruits. This is VERY cool stuff. I don't know if we will be able to try it this year, but we are definatly intrested in cool technologies like this.

On Saturday we sat in a panel for a lunch time discussion with farmers who are considering starting a CSA at a workshop sponsored by the Countryside Conservancy. And if any of them are reading this now, Thanks to everyone who said they read the blog, and liked it! That is SO nice to hear! And I will reiterate what we said yesterday as our primary advice... Start small and grow slowly.

Today is house cleaning and some more field planning!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ark of Taste: Amish Pie Squash

Perhaps not as endangered as some of the other Ark of Taste items we are growing the Amish Pie Squash will be a fun experiment.

These will not be given to our CSA members as the squash can have skins as thick as 5 inches and weigh 60-75 pounds! Probably more then most people could handle. (Food safety regulations mean that we cannot legally cut one into pieces and sell the sections. Once you put a knife in a vegetable the state considers it the same as a steak, and you need all the licences, facilities, ect.)
The flesh of this heirloom is moist and sweet, making it great for pies or processing. It also freezes well but it is not considered a "good keeper," as squashes go. The seeds were collected (by Seed Savers who we obtained our seeds from) from an Amish grower in the mountains of Maryland.
This should be a fun addition to our garden. We are only planting a handful of these, but should have a few for sale in the fall. Please let us know if you are interested.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Is reality too real?

Last week Jamie Oliver slaughtered a chicken on his show in front of a studio audience and 4 million viewers. Will actions like this propel the ethical meat and humanly raised movements?

NY Times Article

Ark of Taste: Tennis Ball lettuce...

Another addition to our "Ark Garden" is Tennis Ball Lettuce.

A favorite of Jefferson at Monticello. Jefferson noted that "it does not require so much care and attention" as other types.

It became a favorite in the late 1800s and is the predecessor to Boston types. By 1904 116 seed houses were offering it. Today there are just a couple speciality suppliers.

I think I will skip a traditional preparation (mentioned in Heirloom Vegetable Gardening by William Woys Weaver) which is to pickle it in a salt brine...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ark of Taste: Beaver Dam Pepper

Here is another of the Ark of Taste items we plan on growing this year...

From Slow Foods website: The Beaver Dam Pepper is a Hungarian heirloom pepper that was brought to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin in 1929 by the Joe Hussli family. The pepper’s first fruits mature 80 days after transplanting, at which point they ripen from lime-green to red. The crunchy fruits are mildly hot and when seeded, they hold an excellent flavor. Rated as 3 on a heat scale of 1-5, the Beaver Dam is great for making fresh batches of cool and tangy salsas.
This product is available from just a handful of mail order seed companies in the US and Canada, and its future is largely in the hands of these seed saving companies.

"Mildly hot" and "crunchy" sounds amazing! I wonder how think the skin is? Maybe they are a stuffing possibility... Hum. August will tell...

We are also trying to get our hands on a couple varieties off the Italian Ark of Taste list! It's just hard to verify they are the same when we do not speak the language!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Random passage of the day...

Since, I often am at a loss of what to post when farm activities are lulling, I decided why not post an interesting passage from a book I am reading. Now that book is "The Revolution will Not be Microwaved - Inside America's Underground Food Movements" by Sandor Ellix Katz.

I personally, love technologies which turn hazardous industrial waste into a useful purpose for our food supply. So I had to admire our government when I read this passage...
  • "In 2002, as part of its massive "Farm Bill," the U.S. Congress explicitly granted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the power to approve any technology capable of killing pathogens as a form of "pasteurization," not requiring special labeling. Irradiation, one such process, uses high doses of radiation - "seven million times more irradiation then a single chest x-ray," according to the Centers for Disease Control - to kill pathogens and extend shelf life. This technology, developed in the 1970s by the U.S. Department of Energy as part of its Byproduct Utilization Program, uses cobolt 60 and cesium 137, both nuclear industry by-products. Irradiation, sometimes referred to as "cold-pasteurization," is often applied to fruit juices, fruits, vegetables, spices, meats, and seafood. Yet irradiation has been shown to diminish the nutritional value of food. Irradiation also alters the molecular structure of the food and generates free radicals and radiolytic products including benzene, formaldehyde, and other know mutagens and carcinogens, as well as "unique radiolyic byproducts" for which no rigorous safety testing has ever been preformed.

Yet a couple studies touted by the FDA shows that consumers are willing to pay more for irradiated meat!

So the question remains, will one day they ask you at a fast food place... "Do you want any Colbolt 60 with that hamburger?"

Cold night...

Wow, is it cold. On days like this I am SO happy I grow veggies and not livestock. There are no outdoor chores that I have to do on days so cold it hurts to be outside for long.

We do have the chickens, but they are easy. Say "hi" to the ladies, check their water,top off their food, collect the eggs. (To be honest, my hubby usually brings them water (always in winter), I am likely to slop water on my leg on carrying the bucket!) It has been cold enough that we did not let them outside. Cold enough to freeze the eggs.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Brrrr from the farm!

Sorry I have not been posting as much recently. There is just not that much to talk about on the farm! (and 'real' job has been crazy as well, with training a new "green building" person, a project deadline looming and a 60 hour week.)

Thursday night hubby was out of town so I had to come home on time (not work late) to take the dog out and care for the chickens, so I had some quiet time to work on our planting schedule.

We are going through each type of produce and figuring a schedule, when to start, transplant, ect. and when to succession plant (radishes every 2 weeks during their growing season, beets every 3). Then we are going through our variety list and breaking that up into more specifics. We are also coordinating that with our field plans (where to plant what).

This will be the most organized year we have had. We know that weather will not always cooperate (it is often hard to plant seeds every week in the spring because it is often wet) but at least we will have a plan and a goal!

With any luck this will be our best year ever!

(OK, so the photo is not new, but it COLD out there!)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What the world eats...

This is amazing! A series of photos showing what families in different parts of the world have eaten and what they pay for it.

It is from the book Hungry Planet. It looks amazing. I'll have to pick it up.

NPR story about book which breaks out some costs of what people eat.

Winter again...

It is winter again and I can breath!

I don't feel like I am so far behind on the season, already! Probably because it now seems like January again and not like mid-April! Which it did last week with the temperatures in the 60s. But now snow has returned to North-east Ohio and the world has returned to normal.

Thank goodness!
My big resolution this year is to keep up on my farming schedule!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

ARK of Taste: Beet

I know I have been neglegtful of my blog! Sorry... We have been working on the website, and hope to have our variety list up this weekend. Here is anouther variety we hope to grow next year. We have yet to find a seed source for this yet, so fingers crossed! But even if we cannot get this we have 4 beet varieties on the list for this year, three heirlooms (Golden, bulls blood, chiogga) and one hybrid. We were so pleased with how well root crops grew last year, this year we want to do a ton more! (Plus, I suddednly discovered I like them!)

Early Blood Turnip-rooted Beet (Beta vulgaris)
This is one of the oldest surviving varieties of table beet, having been introduced in America by 1820. One of the most popular beets of the 1800s in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, it is an all-purpose variety, round root 4” - 4 ½” in diameter with 48 to 68 days to maturity from seed.
The beet has very dark, violet-red flesh with lighter zones. The leaves are dark with bright red petioles. The dark red flesh remains flavorful, tender and juicy even when the beets attain large size. It has a slight clove-like aroma and a wonderful sweetness, light like a carrot but without the intense sweetness of a carrot. Raw it has an apple-like slightly astringent flavor. Its complex taste starts with a cinnamon flavor and a hint of heat followed by a tartness and a rich earthy finish. Its flavor has also been described as sour and tangy. The beet is good both boiled and baked and the leaves are an excellent cooked green.
It is a superb winter storage variety, keeping well in root cellar storage for 8 months or more. Variable rate of maturity may make this beet less desirable for commercial harvest (and this may explain its disappearance from seed catalogs in the latter 20th century), however this characteristic is a plus for the small farmer and home gardener. It is a highly endangered variety.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


We are finally set up with our new web provider!

In the next few days we will be updating it. Now, this site is, hopefully, a temporary site until we can really build our own. I am making it using the standard "web-builder" they offer, so it will be pretty basic, but hopefully informative.

Email with any questions and check out the site

Web illetarate...

I am web illiterate! Finally, this morning, I received an email stating that our domain was transferred to our new provider. But I cannot get the new site up!

UG!!! And I am using their "website builder" for now, so it should be easy! But it's not. I have an email into support, hopefully they fix it so I can post our variety list tomorrow...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Unseasonable hits.

Look where my readers are from...Just today... Hawaii? Portugal? Peru? Brazil? Indonesia?

Maybe people are getting lost in the blog-o-sphere!

Would anyone in any of those places care that we are having record high temps this week? That when I left the house this morning I felt a twinge of panic!

Nothing is started! We haven't tilled! Our seed orders aren't in yet!

We don't have any members! (I know, lots of you want spots, in February I promise, we will release some.)

Deep breath! It is the first week of January... But with the mid 60s temps the internal farmer starts to wake from her winter slumber.

I assume those in more tropical climates would not care at all. I must come up with something interesting to blog about...

Ark of Taste: Red Fig

This year we will be planting several items off of Slow Food's Ark of Taste. These are very special heirlooms and by purchasing seeds to these items we are encouraging them to be produced by commercial seed producers. Eventually we will save seeds from these varieties as well, but we do not plan much seed saving this year. (That will wait until we are farming full time.)

Here is a description of the Red Fig tomato from Slow Food, USA:

These 1.5” pear-shaped tomatoes have been grown in American gardens since the 18th century. They were traditionally dried and packed away for winter use in substitute of figs. They are also used fresh.

The Red Fig Tomato is named for a sugary delicacy that was made with this fruit and popular in the mid 1800s. To make the “figs,” boiling water was poured over the tomatoes to remove the skins and then the skinless tomatoes were placed in a stone jar with equal parts sugar to tomatoes. The resulting syrup was then removed from the jar and boiled and skimmed. The process was repeated over two days, with intervals of cooling. Finally, the tomatoes were dried in the sun for about a week at which point they were packed in small wooden boxes, with fine, white sugar between every layer. Tomatoes prepared in this manner were said to keep for years.

The tomato is currently available from only three seed companies in the United States.
Fresh Red Figs have a full tomato taste with very sweet skin. In addition to being a delicious plated solo act, they’re perfect for contemporary tomato jams and chutneys.

Sounds so yummy! I can hardly wait for summer....

Monday, January 7, 2008

World wide media...

When I launched this blog a couple months ago I was aiming for readership, primarily, of those who lived close to us and were possible customers.

Did I ever underestimate the reach of this medium... As the readership of my blog continues to increase I am amazed at how far afield it seems to go!

In the past day I have seen hits from Norway, Spain, Korea, Japan, California, Minnesota, Illinois, and Oregon. In just the past day!

I cannot help but wonder why would anyone in any of those places be interested in the boring, mundane blog posts of a very small farm in Northeast Ohio?

Could someone let me know? Please...

I'll tell you a secret...

Shh!! If I tell you this secret you have to promise not to tell anyone else!


OK, I am a produce farmer who, until this last summer did not like many root crops! Turnips, beets, parsnips, all UKK!

What was I thinking!?! Maybe I had childhood memories of homemade pickled beets and lumpy mashed turnips? I had never really been exposed them in a positive way.

So last winter when I saw them popping up on all the cooking shows I figured I should give them a try. And boy, was I wrong. Now my favorite fall/winter side dish is roasted root vegetables. I could eat them almost every day!
The picture above is so much prettier then mine, but let me tell you how I make them.
2 small turnips, 1 large or 2 small beets, 2 small potatoes, 2 large carrots, 1 parsnip. Peel all of these and slice. This is where I have been playing around. I slice them into half or quarter rounds so all the pieces are about the same size, but the beets take the longest so cut them a little thinner and the potatoes take the shortest so cut them a little thicker.

Then coat the whole mess in a couple tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper. You could also throw in some fresh herbs, but I never have them in the winter so I leave it basic.
Spray a large baking dish with oil, and pour everything in. The larger the dish is the better this will work, the more surface area of the veggies and the more they are spread out and not piled the better.

Oven at 400 and start roasting. Every 15 minutes or so check and stir. After 45 minutes to an hour when all the pieces are fork tender (even the beets) turn on the broiler. Watch them carefully and when the top pieces start to show a little color flip the pieces around. You want as many of the pieces toasty as you can get without drying out the potatoes or crisping anything.

For me this takes maybe 15 minutes and 4-5 stirs...
There you are. Root vegetables to die for! Healthy, yummy, pretty easy, and perfect winter comfort food. (although do we really need that when it is in the 60s in January!?!)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

CSA is coming!

We would like to thank everyone who has asked us about our 2008 CSA and when spaces will be available.

We hope everyone understands we are doing our best to be fair in offering spots. Towards that end we are going through our waiting list now and trying to organize to the best of our ability, based on if you filled out our 2007 survey, requested a spot in 2007, purchased extra baskets in 2007, or have been on the list for a long time.

Unfortunately, we will not be able to offer spaces to anywhere near everyone who wants them. We are sorry about this, but we feel that slow steady growth will be a key to our success. Please stick with us through this process. We will be sending out emails as spaces are opened. We may also open up some more spaces in mid-summer so if you are not offered a space right away please stick with us!

We will keep everyone up to date. If you have any questions please email us.

As always, Thanks so much for your interest in our farm and local food.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Environmental footprint...

In 2008 we want to measure the environmental footprint of our farm (not including our household.)

To start with we will measure all of our carbon. Diesel for the tractor, gasoline for the tiller & weed whacker, kerosene for the hoop house.

Our electricity usage will be hard, as our "farm" buildings are not metered separately from our home? But lights in the barn, heat lamps in the chicken coop, pump for irrigation from the cistern, it adds up fast.

We have a lot of transportation related impact. Our going to market, picking up feed, UPS bringing seeds, and biggest members driving to the farm each week.

Then there is our waste generation and our water use. Then there are impacts related directly to the farming activities.

This will be a challenge, but all we can do is our best...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


As many of you may have noticed our website has not been updated for serveral months. This has not been for lack of trying! But we were having issues with our webhosting company. In any case we have now switched companies and will be relaunching our website in a day or two. Until then our website is not accessable.

Assuming the transfer goes smoothly, by Saturday we will have details for the 2008 season up. But the long and short of it is, although we WISH we could offer spaces to everyone who wants them, avilable spaces will be limited. We are sorry, but will do our best to accomidate as many people as we can.

We did not keep a dated waiting list for a long time, as we did not anticipate the demand for CSA spaces, so we don't know who has been on our list for how long. We are trying to sort some of that out now, as we are trying to decide how our list will go in the future and how we will accept new members.

We thank everyone for their intrest in our farm, and know that we are growing substantially in 2008 and plan on doing the same in 2009 and 2010...