Monday, December 27, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Here is my favorite dish for a Holiday Brunch, if you happen to have local corn meal you can use that, and if you belong to a herd share, it is a great dish to put some of that local cream on. Try this!
Cranberry Maple Pudding Cake
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
This is a fun time of year. We get to make great plans and execute them on paper! I will always find a way to make a spreadsheet or two, which Farmer Hubby will laugh at me for. He spends time looking at equipment deciding what are next seasons big investments (we need a chisel plow, but what about a new tiller? we really do need to get that cooler we have been talking about, if we can swing it but how are we going to upgrade our wash line (technical term for a couple tables with slatted tops and a garden hose)?)
Right now things are still so preliminary our plans are in the sky and there is no need to put numbers to anything. That will come later, the reconciling of reality with our budget.
We are deciding which areas we will just grow cover crops on next year, which places need the most TLC.
It would be nice to cover the whole farm all next year, but at some point we need to actually grow food, I doubt our CSA members want to eat just Buckwheat, Clover, Rye, and Mustards. So we are working on a cover strategy. Right now almost everything (not next years potato field) has a winter cover planted. We will try to rotate cover through a lot of our tilled areas next year, and start a couple new small fields. Eventually, we will build up good soil, but that is a long term project. One of the "Wish list" items is a planter for limited till cover crops ($9,000, but WOW, is it a nice toy!).
(More dreaming as I dream...)
Friday, October 22, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
I am pretty against this. Although the manufacturers of this product state that all the eggs will be treated to produce only sterile females I still have a concern that if released into the wild salmon population this gene will cause disaster.
We are talking about an animal which, in the wild matures and returns to its spawning site as an adult in 3 years. However, we have decided that 3 years is to long to wait to have nice tasty farmed salmon. We can do it in 18 months, so we should.
So we introduce a gene into the salmon that allows them to mature in 18 months. Can a salmon with these genes live for three years? Will they effect eco systems? If they grow that much faster, one would assume they eat more. Will they out compete non-GMO salmon. If the patented gene gets into the wild population then who owns the salmon? (Think GMO corn, soy beans, and canola).
There are so many questions besides "Will they hurt people who eat them!" Or else, it seems to me, there should be.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I guess right now trade groups responsible for making everyone's favriote product High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) are petitioning the FDA to let them relable it "Corn Sugar."
Sounds safe and wholesome... No?
I think it may backfire on them. There is currently a whole movement of people backing away from corn, concerned about GMOs. These people are considered more "fringy" by the food industry, as good sane normal food consumers know that nothing in your grocery store could possibly be bad for you (except Trans-Fats we are allowed to not like those now.)
There is a less fringy group worried about HFCS. But these people are informed enough to realize that the switch has been made and to start avoiding Corn Sugar as well. But now you have made "Corn" the first word of your product name. You might get these middle income, intelligent, active individuals to start thinking more about the "Corn" itself.
I think people who avoid HFCS now will avoid Corn Sugar starting the day it comes out, and maybe Corn chips, Corn Meal, and other Corn products will take the brunt.
Remember, industry, people today are more informed then ever before and people will know, nothing has changed, but the name....
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The state of Californa says Worm Castings are a pesticide. Here is a link to the case.
I have to say that this case makes me angry. A small business man states that his 100% natural product (worm castings) will deter bugs. That may or may not be true, but the state of California decided to come after him for selling an unregistered pesticide. They fined him over $100,000. They said if he fought it the fine would go up. Well he is fighting and time will see what happens.
According to California anything that will deter bugs is a pesticide. That makes your garlic powder, hot pepper sauce, garden hose, and marigolds all pesticides.
Well not Marigolds - in 1943 a California court ruled that marigolds are not a pesticide. (Just in case you think this kind of nonsense is new.)
(So the question may be what do the 1940s and now have in common?)
Is it so wrong that I want to keep the government out of my garden! I mean, OK, I understand poisons should be regulated. There should be rules that prevent people from throwing raw manure on crops people are going to eat that season. I understand we need guidelines, but a natural product? In 43 marigolds today worm poop?
So I guess I need to come clean to my members. I apologize but every week this season before we have given you your produce we have washed it with.... WATER. Since a bug will drown in water or a garden hose will deter them, I suppose that water is now a pesticide?
Here is an organization to consider supporting - your local farmers may soon need help... http://www.farmtoconsumer.org/
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Now I have to say, this is amazingly cheap. We buy many of our herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs and there you can get 4 ounces of certified organic garlic for 2.25. That is a lot of granulated garlic!
But I read online that if you make your own it will taste so much better you will never go back, so I decided to give it a try! Last night my sister and I peeled the cloves of about 30 heads of garlic (heads which were culled because they were less then perfect.) Then I sliced them.
This is where farmer hubby comes in, when I am almost done, saying "Why don't you just chop them?" I explain that they cannot fall through the food dehydrator rack. He suggested cheese cloth, so tired of slicing garlic I agreed and got a peice of cheese cloth and got out my pampered chef chopper and went to work.
Once done I scopped them on my knife and spread them out. Then the fun started. My hand started BURNING. It hurt so bad. It felt like I had chopped 100 habeneros, instead of some garlic. I ran it under water fora long time, tryed soaking in milk, and finally held an ice pack for an hour. This morning my fingers are still red and hurt. All I can think is that I got a mild chemical burn from the garlic juice...
So maker beware, if you try this WEAR GLOVES. I don't know how it is going to turn out, the garlic is still in the dehydrator, but I will let you know what happens and how it turns out.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
A Survey Found that Driving Causes Impotence in Dogs so Just Don't Do it!
A Paper Found that Sunshine Causes Hangovers in Canadians so Just Don't Do it!
If you are looking for something else to worry about look here...
Sigh, there are so many inconseqential things which are brought forward as things to be worried about that when a real thing comes along, how do you identify it?
My general idea is the more natural the better, or at least not the worst. Staying away from chemicals in foods (whether applied in the growing or processing) is hard to argue with. It may not cause Liberalism in Tattoed Women but it can cause a good feeling in me...
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Blue 1, Blue 2, Citrus Red 2, Green 3, Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 have all been implicated as potentially hazardous.
In 1975 the average person consumed a little more then 30 mg of food dyes a day. Today it is more then 60 mg! Over 15 million pounds of food dyes were recorded with the FDA last year.
There are alternatives. In Britain (where artificial food dyes are not allowed) Nutri-Grain bars are made with Beetroot red, Annatto, and Paprika Extract. In the US the same product is made with Red No 40, Yellow No 6, and Blue No 1? Why is that?
Thursday, July 15, 2010
We canceled our satellite this spring and have been watching some series on Netflix. We just started watching "Better off Ted" and it is pretty cute with scary kernels of truth. Like the boss who says "Remember my door is always open for you, please close it on your way out!"
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
It would work well for even a 50 head patch in a home garden. First lay out a rod.
You can use a 1x2 but we use left over tomato stakes.
Then you lay them out one at a time.
Then just set them on saw horses or speciality built racks to dry.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Monday, July 5, 2010
This should be differentiated from farms which offer a few items from other farms to slightly expand offerings. I like to say if you do not know your farmer you do not belong to a CSA. However as CSA means "Community Supported Agriculture" almost anyone selling any produce could claim the community (their customers) are supporting agriculture.
So maybe CSAs should find a new term? One not so easily co-opted. The orginal name for CSAs in Japan where they originated was Teikei. The defination of the term is a system of community-supported agriculture in where consumers purchase food directly from farmers. But, honestly, I don't even know how to say Teikei.
I found another acronym - LSPPC, Local Solidarity Partenerhips between Producers and Consumers. Maybe that is a harder term to take over? It certainly is longer then CSA, and not as easy for members to say "I belong to a CSA" then "I belong to a LSPPC." Sounds like you should be rescuing animals or protesting in northern Ireland. IT does sound a little militant.
But maybe instead of all of us changing our names, we should just continue to educate our members and the greater community about local agriculture. And while there is a valid place for local food delivery services and "Box schemes" (as they are called in England,) I will stand by my basic assertion. If you don't know the person who grows your food, you do not belong to a CSA.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
The past week I have been playing Frounteirville instead. How sad am I!
This game has its own problems, the main one is it wants to drag you in multiple times a day! You only get a little energy at a time, and then one more every 5 minutes. So if I go in and click 15 times I have used all my energy. In another hour and a half I will have all my energy back. So instead of hours of clicking it is 10 minutes at a time 3 or 4 times a day! Wake up - Do frountierville, Lunch - Do frounteriville, Supper - Do frontierville, before bed - Do frountierville. There are also goals, which is very much my personality rather then just earning money towards no real goal except higher level...
Plus there are some things that you HAVE to get from our friends! Right now I need two ribbons so I can get married. (PLEASE BE MY NEIGHBOR AND SEND ME RIBBONS!!!)
Can you tell, I have spent to much time on this! I should have started in October, not June!
Monday, June 21, 2010
Today the supreme court sided with Monsanto, lifting an injunction that had prevented the company from selling it's genetically modified alfalfa seeds. Monsanto has developed a Roundup Ready alfalfa which (as the name suggests) has been genetically modified not to be killed by the company's popular herbicide, Roundup.
The injunction had been placed on the company because of concerns of cross pollination with organic and conventional (non-GMO) varieties of alfalfa. Monsanto says this is unlikely.
From this article. Dr. Nelson of Purdue University when speaking of GMO corn states that "GMO "contamination" of non-GMO grain can occur in corn by virtue of either cross-pollination between adjacent fields of GMO and non-GMO hybrids or by commingling (a fancy term for "mixing") of seed."
According to this article (Reuters) "There were 39 cases of crop contamination in 23 countries in 2007, and more than 200 in 57 countries over the last 10 years, according to biotech critic Greenpeace International."
Obviously, these are not all caused by pollen drift, but contamination by pollen drift is part of the concern. The other part is that Monsanto actively targets farmers who grow crops with there "intellectual property" (genes) even if the farmer did not grow the crop on purpose (and in the case of organic production where growing it is not allowed.)
I would hope that if the Supreme Court is siding with Monsanto that contamination is unlikely and will not hold farmers in the future liable if their crops do become contaminated. But I really doubt that. Like it or not, the future is here. Hope your hamster likes GMO alfalfa...
The AP article on the case.
Friday, June 18, 2010
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Friday, June 11, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Then it started to rain, and our field work has been a little limited for the past few days, as is evidenced by the amount of weeds in some of the rows! But on this past Saturday we did manage to see to our garlic plants and ended up pulling 2 bushels of scapes. (Garlic scapes are the attempt of the garlic plant to flower, and must be cut down in order to promote good bulb development!)
The unseasonable warm weather is causing our broccoli to quickly head. We were fearful it would flower before our first CSA week so we moved our season up one week. First time that has happened!
So our first CSA pickup is this coming Sunday, the 13th (maybe we should have waited on those scapes!) We are very excited and a little scared, but our first week should be OK, and this season is going to be great!
There are a couple big additions coming to the farm, if all goes as plans. Hubby is going to test drive one this morning and the second one is coming to the farm for a visit this evening.
I think that probably brings us up to date, except for all the computer work that has happened the last couple weeks. Getting start weeks straight for half members and then the mass confusion that moving our season start date caused!
We also signed up for Constant Contact, so if you would like occasional emails from us please sign up, there is a button on the left hand bar of this page.
Friday, May 28, 2010
If you are in the area join us and help us plant zuchhini, cucumber, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and more! We will get some stuff done, get to know each other and have fun.
Feel free to come for the whole time or just an hour, carefully supervised children are welcomed.
We will be in the fields, look for the Armington Pond parking lot across from the Humane Society sign at 4965 Quick Rd. Peninsula OH.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
So, like many of you, we carefully ready the labels. And, like some of you, we occasionally make mistakes. That bag of garlic which says "California" on the front says "Product of China" in tiny letters somewhere on the back. They just put it in the bag in California! US garlic can become a difficult thing to find mid winter when all of ours is gone!
Anyway, yesterday we saw these mushrooms. On one side they say Pennsylvania (logical since mushrooms are very perishable) on the other side they say "Product of Korea"! KOREA! For something like a mushroom, as perishable as a mushroom!
Look for mushrooms at your farmers market. And, as always, read labels carefully!
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Here is a nice piece from the Farm to Consumer Legal Defence Fund.
The article is review of the "more damaging provisions of the two bills under the following subheadings:"
- A. National Agriculture and Food Defense Strategy
B. Authority over Movement of Food
C. Criminal and Civil Penalties
D. HACCP Plans
E. Food Traceability
F. Safety Standards for Produce
Enjoy your light reading!
The article ends by asking people to call their Senators and asking them to vote against the Bill. In reality, the bill is extremely likely to pass. I have been suggesting that people call and support the Tester Amendment, which will exempt small farms (under $500,000 is gross receipts) from some of the more difficult and expensive provisions of the bill including HACCP Plans and Traceability requirements.
Let me know if you call and their staff seems to care at all. I would be interested.
Monday, May 17, 2010
We are going to talk about different ways to get your plants all the nutrients they need, starting with feeding your soil and moving onto your plants. We will talk about different recipes for a garden.
We will talk about the big 3- NPK, and why they are important, but not the end of the story. We will talk about micro nutrients and more.
I am most excited about showing people how to make their own compost tea, a wonderful, inexpensive, and easy to make way to enhance the biological activity of your soil! A healthy plant starts with biological activity in your soil!
This past winter we went to a farming conference. The presenter made a joke about organic farmers (to which everyone in the room laughed,) and right after that he went on to say that he had done research on Compost Tea and was a strong believer in it!
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The new bees are doing well, and eating lots of sugar water. Hubby took this photo, with not a bee to be seen, but it was only 45 degrees and there were a few Guard Bees popping in and out. The next day they were flying, and the established hives are really strong!
Looks like, thanks to the PD's article, we will fill up our CSA in the next couple days. That will be a good feeling to not have to worry about that anymore.
Radishes, beets, turnips, greens, and carrots are all up. The cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, and kale transplants are doing well under row cover. The onions are all growing and we should have "spring" onions in time for first week with scallions not far behind! The potatoes are starting to pop through the ground and already need to be cultivated in advance of their first hilling in a few weeks. The hoophouse is starting to burst with all the transplants!
It is not the middle of May yet and we already have more in the ground then we had all season two years ago! We still have about $5,000 in equipment, a produce cooler, and a large high tunnel to buy this season, so please remember to get your final CSA payment when you get a chance. I will be sending a reminder email when I get a chance!
I am very excited this is going to be a great season!
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
But I found this article last week about a farmer being raided for suspected interstate sale of raw milk.
"Stockton warned the requirement now is for federal agents to claim they have "credible evidence" regarding a case, but a proposed federal change would strike those words in the law and replace them with "reason to believe."
"The phrase 'reason to believe' would be inserted 14 times into the code with S. 510," she said. "If this bill goes through, the FDA will have control of farms. They will not need 'credible evidence' to act. They will essentially be given a free hand to act as they want. And look at how they already act, even with the existing constraints in place." "
How much less is "reason to believe" then "credible evidence," a world it seems to me... a constitutional world...
We pull driptape (irrigation) at the same time we make the bed (that is the big black thing on the tractor) and we mark rows at the same time to. By marking rows it makes it easier to seed or transplant straight without pulling string (which is hard to do straight when your land is not flat.)
In case you wonder, I am standing on the hiller as we do the rows. That way I can cut the irrigation tape at the end of the row and start it at the beginning. Enjoy!
Monday, May 3, 2010
- Planting about 2,400 row feet of potatoes
- Planting about 1/4 acre of onions (sets and transplants)
- First spring seeding (about 5,500 row feet of every thing from carrots and beets, to peas and hearty greens.
- Transplanted 200+ broccoli plants, 200+ kale plants, 1000+ cabbage plants, a few hundred feet of lettuce, and 100 feet of scallions.
- First weeding of the year, including getting the garlic cultivated and fertilized.
- Started a couple hundred trays of everthing from peppers and eggplant to lettuce and kohlrabi.
- Of course we also got our hoophouse up and heat in it.
- Made tables for the hoophouse.
- Lots of field work, including plowing and tilling new land, and of course prepping the acre plus which is already in.
- One gardening class.
- Participated in EarthFest.
- Fixed the tractor.
- Built a row marker.
- Built a prehiller.
- Answered a couple thousand emails.
- And a million other small tasks of the type which comes up every day.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Well, a new story is coming to light, which is no less scary. A 5am raid on an Amish farmer, legally producing a product in his state, but being accused of some of his highly dangerous (raw milk) product being transported across state lines. Here it is.
I wonder how long it will be that we can legally eat veggies that actually touched the ground, and were not kept safe by huge wildlife exclusions zones, and piles of paperwork and regulation.
How long will our freedom of choice to buy veggies from who we like, drink milk we want (already gone in 21 states), or put salt on on dinner last? We need to stand up for our right to choose our food. (as sad as that is)
I like this quote: "Senate Bill 510 actually will strengthen the forces that have led to the consolidation of our food supply ... while harming small producers who give consumers the choice to buy fresh, healthy and local foods," said R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard in the release.
It is true. I rewatched Food, Inc. the other day and was torn again, between righteous anger at our food system and fear that documentaries like it will help cement a one-size fits all food safety system.
We need a system which does not treat a 4 acre veggie grower like Earthbound Organics. If you have not already, tell your senators you support the Tester Amendment. Here is info on it.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
We have 2 beds of a Spanish onion (Big Daddy), 2 beds of a sweet red (Mars), 4 beds of a yellow storage onion (First Edition), and 3 beds of a white sweet (these last we planted from sets as an experiment!) In addition, we have in two beds of leeks (about 1500 total) and a bed of high density leeks and onions, for baby leeks, spring onions, and torpedo style onions (the only ones we started from seed ourselves.)
All of that (about 14,000 onions by our math if things are perfect (which they never all) joins the 4-1/2 rows of garlic and 1/2 row of shallots we put in that field last fall to give us a full quarter acre of Alluims.
A quarter acre may not seem like a lot, but we are already trying to figure out how we will cure all of these onions, I don't think 11,000 onions will fit easily into our hoophouse. If each onion is only 4 ounces (which is small) that is about 86 bushels of onions (2,750 pounds.)
The scary thing is that next year, we will probably be doubling our onions!
Planting is just the beginning of the work, onions need a lot of TLC, especially weeding to keep them happy and healthy. They also need regular fertilizer application (folair feeding with fish powder and side dressing with corn gluten.) Thrips are the major pest of onions, and midlews (powdery and downy) are a huge issue.
Wish us luck as our onion season starts!
Friday, April 23, 2010
There will still be lots to do tomorrow for onion planting day, so join us 10-4 if you would like to help, but today farmer hubby and I got started and got about 1900 feet of onions planted (about 20% of what we have to do, so still lots that needs help!)
Here is a video of us watering them in. You cannot see the onions in this video, but they are there, 4 rows per bed and spaced about 4 inches apart...
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
We want to get them all in before the rains start Sunday, so we will be getting some planting done in advance of Saturday, but there should still be lots to do! If we run out of onions, there are other things to help with if you would like to. This will be our first "farm help day" of the year. If we hold others will depend on the intrest we get for this one.
Park in the Armington Pond lot, turn off Quick Rd. across from the Humane Society and email us with any questions.
Friday, April 16, 2010
When you stop by tell us you read our blog, and get... Well nothing except gratitude!
Thursday, April 15, 2010
According to food safety news "The most contentious amendment in consideration, proposed by Senator John Tester (D-MT), to exempt food facilities with under $500,000 gross sales from preventative control plan requirements, and traceback and recordkeeping provisions, will not be part of the manager's amendment, but will be debated separately when the bill is brought to the floor. "
Please note that Food Safety news is on the separate side of the issue from me and thinks this amendment is "asking for trouble." But their article outlines the amendments made and pending clearly so here is the link: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/04/farmers-make-gains-in-senate-battle/
I would ask you to call your senators and ask them to support the Tester Amendment and support your local farms.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
You may have heard:
- You will have to pay $500 and be subjected to inspections to grow your own garden!
- It will outlaw organics!
- It will end Farmers Markets and CSAs!
- It will mean only GMO seeds can be sold!
These things are NOT true. The law will not do this, your garden will not be illegal and your farmers market is safe, you will still be able to buy organic veggies and avoid GMO varieties.
But it will have significant impacts. Basically the problem is this - it is trying to apply a one size fits all mold to farms and food producers, across the board, regardless of size of the grower (/producer) or means of distribution.
- It is NOT limited only to products involved in interstate commerce, which means that the food your farmer grows for your local farmers market is not exempt.
- It does NOT recognize differences in farm size, which means a 10 member CSA will have to pay the same fee, complete the same paperwork, and compile the same Hazard Plan as a multi-thousand acre non-diversified farm.
- It puts the FDA in charge of farmers production methods. Is this really the right place for this to be? Shouldn't this be a Department of Agriculture issue? People who deal with farms and not pharmaceutical factories?
- Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system will apply to even the smallest local food processor. This means that the person making cupcakes or jelly for market will be considered legally the same as Kraft food.
But honestly, my biggest concern is not for this bill today. In all probability, if it passes the worst that will happen with small producers is they have to pay their $500, because the amount of work involved in implementing this involves is so large that it will be years before they work their way down to the 2 acre grower. BUT it will set up a framework to institute regulation whenever public opinion blows.
So lets say that in 5 years there is a U-pick strawberry farm somewhere which gets contaminated somehow with something? Lets say, hypothetically, that 24 children who picked strawberries there get very ill, a couple may even die. With this law in place it would be a matter of REGULATION not LEGISLATION that U-pick berry farms are no longer compliant with food safety laws.
Lets say that in 7 years there is a farmers market somewhere where jalapenos which are contaminated with something are sold. They trace it back to a farmer who had a deer walk across his field. There is not necessarily proof that that is the source of the contamination, but since we know that animals should not be within 1000 feet of food (California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement) new REGULATION not LEGISLATION is put in place that any food grown within 200 feet of evidence (footprints) of animals must be destroyed.
Lets get crazy and say that in 20 years there is a problem somewhere and good diligent organic farmers by compost from a company who has produced a bad, contaminated product. People in 4 states get sick, 25 die. Now you can no longer use compost in farms via the stroke of a pen.
I am all for food safety, but I feel that the small grower is a pretty safe bet from a safety standpoint. We are NOT the same as big farms and should not be treated such.
We need to call and let our Senators know that we do not agree with 510. Since it is pretty much guaranteed to pass (which senator will risk being against food safety, and be accused during the next election of being responsible for death of the next child to be victim to a food contamination outbreak) we need to support amendments which exempt small producers.
One size does not fit all!
Orginizations who support this bill have spent over $7,000,000 in donations, those who oppose it less then half a million. Wow, what a diffrence.
Want to guess what side big business is on? Here's a clue, it is not on the side of small farmers!
No difrenetnation between a producer who grossed $500, $5,000, $50,000, or $50 million, same fees, same paper work, same requirements. Does this make sense?
CALL TODAY! http://www.westonaprice.org/Urgent-Action-Alert-on-Senate-Food-Safety-Bill.html Let them know you support the Tester ammendment.
"The Committee version of the bill does NOT address my concerns, and I urge the Senator to support the Tester Amendment to exclude small facilities and direct marketing farms from the most burdensome provisions of the bill."
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
I will post more about it tommrow, but this is an important issue for small farms (and as importantly small and home food producers) so I ask each of you to look into it as well. For more information click here.
April 10, 2010
Re: Senate Bill 510 – Local Foods and Farms May be at Risk
Dear Friends and Lovers of Local, Sustainable Foods,
I am writing to let you know about S.510, a food safety bill which has been named the “Food Safety Modernization Act”. Having read the bill and analysis and commentary on the bill, I have come to the conclusion that S. 510, if passed, may have the (seemingly) unintended consequence of compromising and potentially eliminating altogether many small farms, and along with that consumer access to local food – whether at farmer’s markets, through a CSA (community supported agriculture), or in farm to table restaurants. All without addressing the root cause of the past food contamination problems.
As you may have already gathered, I oppose - strongly oppose – S.510. I am sending this email letter to you because it is my hope that after you read this you will consider calling your Senator and expressing your own opinion about this. This can be relatively easy. I have included at the end of this email an “Action Alert” from the Cornucopia Institute (a non-profit educational organization which supports the ecological principles and economic wisdom underlying sustainable and organic agriculture). The Alert provides simple instructions for contacting your Senator, with some suggestions for what you might want to say
The companion bill to S.510 passed the House last year, and it is predicted that this Bill may come before the Senate for a vote as early as this coming Tuesday, April 13. In addition to moving pretty quickly, the bill also seems to be somewhat of a sleeper. Although its impact on small, local farms will be considerable, potentially devastating, there seems to be very little awareness of it among the members of the local farms/local foods community. All attention (if any) has been focused upon the so-called “Leafy Greens” regulatory process which has been traveling around the country, with the “Produce Safety Project” hosting “stakeholders” meetings between representatives of the prospective regulators (the FDA, the USDA), farmers, and research academics
S. 510 provides extensive, onerous, expensive regulatory requirements, all done in a “one size fits all” manner (meaning that the same rules would be applicable to both the enormous industrial farms and to small local farms). Farm registration, hazard analysis and controls, extensive recordkeeping and reporting requirements, extensive traceability documentation, etc. The bill provides for the establishment of detailed standards regarding the manner in which a farmer may grow, water, nurture, harvest and store his crops, what animals may come in contact with his crops (possibly none), and so forth – seemingly every aspect of the farmer’s food growing operation. The FDA would be given sweeping enforcement authority - the power to enter the farm, to order food to be quarantined or recalled, to order the farm to be shut down, etc. – all under very subjective standards which leave a lot of room for abuse and/or mistakes. If you are at all familiar with the USDA’s or FDA’s track record under their already extensive regulatory authority, you know that it is not exactly exemplary. This history, with respect to small farms in particular, is replete with stories of arbitrary, capricious and often just plain ignorant (and highly subjective) enforcement operations. A little “oops” by the Feds and a small farmer already operating with a very small profit margin faces the risk of being forced out of business.
Viewed most charitably, the bill is a poorly thought out reaction to the food safety problems of recent years (remember the E. Coli on spinach coming out of California?). What the bill overlooks is that virtually all of the recent food safety scandals have been linked directly to large, industrial scale agricultural operations. The main threats to food safety, even according to the government proponents of the bill, are centralized production, centralized processing, and long distance transportation. These are attributes of the industrial food system, certainly not of the small, local, sustainable and/or organic farmers who typically sell at farmer’s markets, through their own CSA or directly to restaurants. In fact, the food produced by family and local farms, often organic and sustainable, is probably the safest in the nation. This makes sense, when you stop to think about it. These farmers know first-hand the importance of food safety. It is for them a way of life. They and their family members work in the fields. They eat the same food that they sell us (OK, maybe they eat the stuff with the bumps and bruises). They know that if there is a problem there will be no hiding behind the food consolidator, the packing house or the long distance transportation operation. When we buy local product we know the identity of the farmer who grew the food, and many of us also have the opportunity of getting to know the farmer. Food safety safeguards are very naturally built into local food systems.
Once we understand that the main threats to food safety involve large scale industrial agriculture, it is readily apparent that it makes no sense to impose upon small local farms the onerous and complex regulatory and record-keeping requirements which may be appropriate to control the “big guys” with their disturbing record on food safety. The larger operations will be able to absorb these costs – the fees as well as the time cost of extensive recordkeeping and documentation. The small, local farmers will not. Many of them are already operating at the margin, settling for a very small income in order to be able to continue doing what they love, playing their part in building a local, sustainable food supply for our communities. And any of you who have friends in this community know that they are already at or below the minimum amount of sleep required to sustain human life, especially during growing and harvesting season.
As I considered S.510 Bill and the surrounding issues, I found myself asking the question, who will benefit from this legislation, if passed? The answer, I believe, is that large agricultural business will be the winner. Congress and the public may think that it is the public that is benefitting – there has been a lot of hoopla about food safety in the past couple of years. Some of it is certainly justified – there have been significant breaches in the safety of our food supply, virtually all of them linked to big agriculture (E. coli on fresh spinach, melamine in dairy products, Salmonella in peanut butter, to name a few). By inducing the public to believe that their food is safe, and by crippling or shutting down the smaller and increasingly “thorn in the side” sustainable, local, organic farmers whose message and offerings of safe, healthy, sustainable, community enhancing food is catching on in this culture, this bill looks to me mostly like a vehicle for large agricultural interests to increase their markets.
Thank you for reading this far. If you share even some of my views on this Bill, you may agree that it is important to let your Senator know about this before the upcoming vote (which may occur as early as Tuesday, April 13). If you would like to do this, please continue on and read the Action Alert from the Cornucopia Institute which I have included in the balance of this email. This Action Alert provides simple suggestions for expressing your concerns to your Senator, including how to contact him or her and discussion points. Cornucopia encourages people who support small, local farmers – people like most of us - to support the proposed amendment to S.510 offered by Senator Tester, (D-MT), who is actually a certified organic farmer. While this amendment may not be perfect, in terms of the goal of protecting and preserving the viability of small local farms, it is all the best that we have, and I encourage you to support it.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Here is a video highlight from our day of potato planting.
Farmer Hubby rigged our new cultivator to cover them and WOW did it make it so much nicer then last year! Over 1300 feet in today, with about that much still to do would be hard without equipment to help, as it was it was a full day process, to hill, apply fertilizer, put the potatoes in and then cover them.
(This is the first time I tryed uploading video from my cell!)
Friday, April 9, 2010
From what he could gather the customer was a pretty new produce grower and seemed eager to plant everything NOW! Raymond Yoder (the owner of the business) looked at him and said, with great wisdom "The calender doesn't lie, it will be cold again."
Now I am looking out the window of my office at sleet pounding down. Exceptional warm year or not, it will be cold again when it is the first week of April and you live in Northern Ohio!
Thursday, April 8, 2010
On Tuesday while Farmer Hubby was happily discing the seat on the tractor broke! It is hard to use a tractor with no seat, and work needed to be done, so he welded a quick fix and got back on the seat, and I worried about him falling to his death and being overrun by a run away tractor (and disc.)
Well before he went back out he ordered a new seat from Rural King. That was on Tuesday around lunch time.
Well yesterday he came in for lunch and saw a BIG box sitting on the porch. He cringed thinking they had packed all our onions into one big box instead of individual cases, but when he opened it his new seat was in the box! 26 hours from ordering it to it getting to us from Indianapolis.
Now that is service, and a company who understands the importance of speed to farmers in the critical spring season.
Thanks Rural King! (I guess UPS should be thanked to...)
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
With luck and some hard work within a week all 500 pounds of potatoes will be in the ground! Also, the bushel of onions we are trying as sets. That is only a couple thousand onions, but not to worry, our 5 cases of starts (about 2000 each and how we normally grow onions) are due to be delivered sometime next week. Between onions, leeks, and garlic we have about 1/4 acre so everyone should have their fill!
Cabbage and lettuce should soon follow, and than step by step through the spring planting season until the eggplants and peppers are put in after all threat of frost has passed!
There have been years when we are pushing to be 100% plowed by this week in May! I will take this weather (warm and dry) but I really hope that the summer does not prove this dry or we will be testing our irrigation capacity!
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Easy! You can take our seed saving class next Saturday (April 10th) and walk away with a tray of 72 seedlings you started and the confidence to care for them yourself...
Check out details here: and email us with any questions or to register. (Preregistration is required.)
Friday, April 2, 2010
Thursday, April 1, 2010
After much deliberation we have decided that we think that this local food thing is just a fad. So we have decided to get out of farming. Don't worry, CSA members, we have you covered.
I hope to continue to blog here about our adventures in the new "FAIR MILE" world, with our dinners of Chicken Nuggets and imported asparagus. In fact, I will probably go out of my way to avoid local food, because (after all) I DO care.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Really, what were the store's options? How many Disc Harrows do they sell in Macedonia? And those few people looking for a 6-1/2 foot implement needing a 40+ HP tractor to pull it who may be shopping the Macedonia TSC, of those people how many are willing to buy something needing repairs before it could be used! It was sell it to us or sell it for scrap.
An hour or so of welding and grinding and it is good as new! We drilled a couple holes in the tubes to allow them to drain, wow, a lot of water spilled out! The steel seems good and thick, but if worse comes to worse and we have to buy a new frame it is $400, so we will still be ahead. We are pretty sure we won't have any problems with this purchase.
Eventually we need a bigger one, and when we get a bigger tractor we will purchase a nicer, larger unit which will last the farm for 50 years or more, this one will hold us over for a couple more years.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Over the last couple years awareness of BPA has risen and now parents everywhere (not just the freaks who wrap their children in (BPA free) bubble wrap) carefully avoid it.
Monday, March 29, 2010
There is one half page article about growing pumpkins where he talks (amoung other things) about the neccessity of spraying pumpkins for mildews. He has two sketches of pumpkin feilds and at first glance they both look nice. But the first one has pumpkin of many sizes, some without handles, a weedy feild, and in the background a broken windmill. The second one, "without Mildew" has all the pumpkins with nice handels and of similar size, the rows, raised and weed free with a barn in the background. The caption informs the reader that the well kept barn in the background shows that the farmer takes care in all that he does.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Lots of row cover (5000 feet) make up the bulk of the order but we have four more bags of starting mix, sandbags, and 300 wire hoops. The big roll is floor for our hoop house and the box is greenhouse cover for our little cold frames.
The brown bags in the back are potatoes, but we were just picking those up, they were paid for a month ago so are not included in the $1000.
In case you are wondering about the greenhouse (which is what I need to call it because hoophouses are MUCH simpler) we have all the track on it and just need to cover it. Pray for calm!
Friday, March 26, 2010
We do live in Ohio and although we have had an amazing mid March we do normally average (in Akron 8.9 inches of snow in March AND 2.5 inches in April.
We AVERAGE 0.1 inches in May and a trace in June!
Remember our last average frost day is still 7 weeks away! We still have plenty of time for ugly weather.
That being said, if you are feeling the gardening urge, maybe signing up for our Seed starting class April 10th would satisfy that urge!
Starting your own Seeds
April 10th 2:00 – 4:00
In this two hour class you will start your own seeds.
We will learn the basics of starting your own seeds, growing your own transplants, caring for the seedlings, and giving them a good start in the garden.
You will leave the class with a flat of 72 tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil, lettuce, cabbage, and more... The class includes all materials including tray, seeds, and humidity dome. A wide variety of seed, many heirloom, will be available for you to choose from. You are free to mix and match in any combination you desire. So if you do not like eggplants or hot peppers you will be free to make other choices.
$60 ($20.00 class & $40.00 Material fee)
$10 for second person when registering together and sharing all materials (including tray).
Thursday, March 25, 2010
And here is one brave bee-keeper!
And one brave four year old - although I wonder if they are really bees, they do not usally swarm around food...
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The potatoes are pre-paid, but we also will be picking up other supplies for the spring including:
- Nine 500 foot rows of row cover (probably not enough)
- 300 small sand bags (fto hold down the row cover)
- 150 wire hoops (again probably not enough)
- 20 plastic greenhouse bench tops and lots of clips
- 100 foot of clear plastic greenhouse cover
- 100 feet of greenhouse floor
- A earthway broadcast spreader
- 200 - 4" plastic pots
- And some other small stuff (my list is down stairs)
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The Farmer's Creed:
I believe in freedom, freedom to work the soil and care for the land, and freedom to worship as I please, but do not believe that freedom is free.
I believe a man's greatest possession is his dignity, and that no calling bestows this more abundantly than farming.
I believe hard work and honest sweat are the building blocks of a person's character.
I believe that farming, despite its hardships and disappointments, is the most honest and honorable way a man can spend his days on this earth.
I believe my children are learning values that will last a lifetime and can be learned no other way.
I believe farming provides education for life and that no other occupation teaches so much about birth, growth and maturity in such a variety of ways.
I believe many of the best things in life are indeed free; the splendor of a sunrise, the rapture of wide open spaces, the exhilarating sight of your land greening each spring.
I believe true happiness comes from watching your crops ripen in the field, your children growing tall in the sun, your whole family feeling the pride that springs from their shared experience.
I believe that by my toil I am giving more to the world then I am taking from it, an honor that does not come to all men.
I believe my life will be measured ultimately by what I have done for my fellow men, and by this standard I fear no judgment.
I believe when a man grows old and sums up his days, he should be able to stand tall and feel pride in the life he has lived.
I believe in farming, because it makes all this possible.
Monday, March 22, 2010
-You are going to be hot.
-You are going to cold.
-Your feet will hurt.
-Your back will hurt more.
-You will be wet.
-You will be muddy.
-You will be dirty.
-You will be thirsty.
-You will be frustrated.
-You will be angry.
-You may even cry.
-You will work by tractor headlights at night.
-You will wake before sunrise to work.
-You will work with a sandwich in your hand.
-You will be challenged by nature.
-You will be challenged by people.
-You will work harder then you should.
-You will spend more then you ought.
-You will earn less then is fair.
Are you still reading? Wow, you are brave! If you are still reading also know this:
If you love what you are doing it will all be worth it.
You will be none of these things all the time (except maybe the last!) and most of them seldom, but they will happen and then only your love of farming will be enough to keep going.
Then you know you are a farmer.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
We started the day with the frame done. We started hanging the polycarb sides. When they were up they had to be trimmed to follow the line of the hoophouse.
Once all of that is done we can stretch the plastic and install the roll up sides. I think it will be nice when it is done! The kit was expensive but I think it was worth it, it is a nice unit.