Monday, December 27, 2010

2011 CSA


In 2011 we will be keeping our CSA the same size as in 2010. We hope expansion will come with our participation in farmers markets and adding a small road side stand.

We are sure this will be our best season ever. We will have more help on the farm, we have more access to water for irrigation, a couple new hoophouses (one already up and another to come) and we are adding some new equipment.

Our planning is well underway, and we are sure that the 3/4 bushel CSA boxes will be bursting for most of the season!


If you want to get more information or want to be added to our waiting list email us and let us know... heather@basketoflifefarm.com

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Local Christmas...

Try to work at least one local product into your holiday celebration. Maybe some Hartlezers Egg Nog, Ohio wine, or local Maple Syrup.

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

Next year...


Today is very windy (45+mph gusts), very warm (74 degrees), and very spring like (with the threatening thunderstorms) and with spring in the air (although it is October) it makes me think about next season all the more.

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

Event in the Barn...

This week has been busy! We held a canning class on Saturday, our Farm Fall Potluck on Sunday, and then on Wednesday we hosted a group from Leadership Akron at our farm.
I love the way our barn looks in the dark. It is a great space for events, the problem being that we have a lot of stuff which needs to be stored in the barn as well! Getting everything straightened and organized is a project, we are hoping that in the future we will be able to keep the farm more like this, more often.
In the photo below is the new park Superintendent, Stan Austin, talking to the group about his hopes for the future of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.




Monday, September 20, 2010

GMO Fish...

Genetically modified Salmon may soon be one of the first GMO animals in the normal food supply of Americans. It is currently under review by the FDA.

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

Corn Sugar...

Buyer beware. And Trade industry to...

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

It will kill a bug = pesticide.

So the question is will anything that will deter a bug a pesticide?

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

Garlic Powder...

I finished my garlic powder today and I have to say, it is GREAT!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Making my own...

In my never ending attempt to make things which I should probably just buy I have decided to try my hand at granulated garlic.

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

More things to worry about....

A Scientific Investigation Found that Bottled Water Caused Teenage Angst In Gen-Xrs So Just Don't Do it!

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

Food dyes...

There are so many things to be careful of in the food we eat that it can be overwhelming. A recent study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest talks about risks of petroleum based food dyes. Here is the report.

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

Veridian Dynamics Food Commerical...

This is pretty funny, and frighteningly close to reality...



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

Pickle Class...

We had to reschedule our pickle class to the following weekend. So now the class will be July 24th. If are intrested let me know. We will be making dilly beans, bread and buttler pickles, and talking about making classic fermented pickles.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Garlic Drying...

We have long had trouble with what to do with our garlic to dry it after we have harvested. Finally we found a good solution. If all the other small farmers out there know this, WHY DIDN"T YOU TELL US!

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.

Just put a second on top and tie, zip tie, or heavy duty rubberband them together.


Then just set them on saw horses or speciality built racks to dry.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Who is Organic Food.

When you see organic food in the grocrey store do you think small farmers in the field or do you think Heinz or Kellog? You may need to think again. When you buy at a producres only farmers market or from your CSA you know who grew your food. The Cornucopia Institute has made this chart.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

SB 510- Again...

Here is a great article on SB510. There is a lot of misinformation out there about the bill, but that does not mean you should support it outright. Please do your research. The site below is a great place to start.

http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/food-safety-interview/?utm_source=roundup&utm_medium=email

Monday, July 5, 2010

New name?

Recent years seem to have seen a regional co-opting of the term CSA. Farmers I know have started to refer to these as "Third party CSAs." Although, these company's (because they are not farms) are sourcing their product from many farms with no direct relationship (other then buying and selling) to the agricultural process.

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

Bye bye Farmville...

I admit it, I was a Farmville Junkie! The amount of time I spent over this winter growing virtual crops was not reasonable, not even close! Slowly I built my farm up, bought bigger farms, earned most of the ribbons, gained Mastery in a dozen or more items and am now a Level 59 farmer. But slowly the game has lost me. The endless clicking to plow, clicking to plant, clicking to harvest (3 clicks for each crop in each field square.) I have the big farm, and most of it is field, so it is three hundred plus squares. Recently my interest has begun to wane... I am using up my stockpiled fuel from when you could buy it for farm coins (I stockpiled almost 100 tanks) but right now, for instance, my field is not even plowed.

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

GMO Hamster...

As I write this post I will do so carefully, choosing my words with caution as I will be talking about one of the biggest names in industrial agriculture; Monsanto.

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

Potatoes

Hilling with our new tractor went really well... Lots of poatoes no their way.

Oh, and for those of you who followed our blog the past couple years, great news. To date the potatoe beetle count is... 0! (knock on wood!)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Look, mom, a toy!

We got an incredible deal on this 65 HP (@ PTO) Challenger Tractor. This is a pretty high quality toy and with only 12 hours on it and 18 months left on the warrenty we are pretty happy. Check out our Facebook fan page for more photos.

Has it only been 12 days?

When I looked back at my last post I realized it was 12 days ago. Wow, am I a bad blogger.

So much has happened in that week and a half.

Our first farm work day went amazingly well. In the course of 5 hours we had over 20 people come to the farm. They stayed between an hour and 4 hours and with their help we planted thousands of pepper, eggplant, cucumber, and squash plants.

The next day with one of our work share members we planted 400 lettuce plants and almost as many Boc Choi plants. A few days later two more work share members helped put in almost 1000 tomato plants.


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

Work day is on!

Our farm workday scheduled for Saturday 1-6 is on.

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

Local food... or at least regional...

Yesterday we were at the grocery store. It is our habit to try to buy from as close to our home as we can. This is why we used to buy Michigan beet sugar instead of cane sugar (we no longer do this because most sugar beets are now GMO.)

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

Light reading anyone - S 510

Would anyone like a little light reading?

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

June 3rd Gardening Class.

I am getting excited about our June 3rd Feeding your Garden Class.

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

A couple photos and Mid May update.

The season is progressing well. The garlic is growing fast. Hopefully it will wait until our CSA starts in about a month to start the scapes. We can scape people out this year!

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

Greenhouse...

Early May hoophouse...
The basement still has stuff in it, so we are going to run out of room fast! Good thing we are planning to plant some more this week!

video

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fingers crossed

Hopefully this works...


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Reason to believe S.510 is scary.

I keep meaning to post this, and I keep putting it off, because I KNOW that you probably care more about what is going on at the farm (weeding, the last rain kick started the Canadian Thistle) and not more blabbing on the Food Safety Bill.


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...

Another video.

Here is a video of us making our hills. They were already prehilled and are about 125 feet long.

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!


video

Monday, May 3, 2010

Plants, plants, everywhere and not a thing to eat!

This time of year is a time of great hope and greater impatience. Since our CSA does not start until mid June we do not push our early season to hard (this will change in coming years with hoophouses and other improvements.) But with a lot of items in the ground, and thousands waiting in the hoophouse we are just waiting for the first truly edible items (probably radishes, greens, and garlic scapes) in about a month.

So far this season our major completed tasks have included:
  • 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.
The photos are both from the same day. We still have some starts in our basement and are daily moving them to the hoophouse. Problem is we are still starting seeds, so the basement is not getting less crowded, while the hoophouse is getting more crowded! Thankfully, we have started to transplant so we should be OK for a while.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

For milk?

Some of you may remember my post last year about Manna Storehouse and a private home raided by a swat team for the accusation of selling mislabeled meat through their co-op.

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)

Are we all the same?

Here is a really nice article on SB510.

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

Onion news...

Yesterday and the day before with the help of wonderful members we got all of our onions in the ground. Each onion bed is about 110 feet long and has 4 rows, with onions spaced about 4" to 6" apart. So that means each bed has somewhere around 1000 onions in it.

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

Onion planting started...

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...

video

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Onion Planting Day!

There are TONS of onions to plant, so please stop by and help if you have a chance. We will be starting in the morning and going until we are done (or until it gets dark, depending.) Onion planting is a pretty easy task, and would be appropriate for older children, please use your judgement or ask if you have questions, my thoughts would be children over 10, in general.

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

Earth Fest!

Visit us at Earthfest this Sunday! We will be bored, unless people come see us.

When you stop by tell us you read our blog, and get... Well nothing except gratitude!

http://earthdaycoalition.org/programs_earthfest.php

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Video about SB 510

Call - tell them to support the Tester Ammendment!

Senate Bill 510 is going to pass, but a series of amendments look like they are going to be included! However, it is my understanding that the Tester amendment is not included in the amendments which will definatly make it in. It will be debated separately and voted on alone.

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

Fact and fiction...

So you may be hearing a lot about why the senate bill 510 (FDA Food Safety Modernization Act) is bad and what it does.

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!

Senate Bill 510

I was talking with a friend about the new Food Saftey Bill today (yes, if you have not yet firgured it out, I am firmly against food saftey) and he pointed out that the fault is mine. I did not hire lobbiests who did a good job. If I would have hired better lobbiests or given more money to campaigns then things might be trending diffrently!

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!

http://maplight.org/us-congress/bill/111-s-510/360488/total-contributions

Senate Bill 510

I have to say my favriote thing right now about Senate Bill 510 is that is EXCLUDES large scale meat producers, CAFOs, and large meat processing plants. They are where much of the food containmantion comes from but we should ignore them and instead force a farmer who brings a few dozen pints of jelly to market or makes a salad mix to sell to keep extremely detailed records (possibly requiring the help of a consultant to meet the letter of the law), pay a $500 annual fee, and be subject to regular inspection.

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

Senate Bill 510

One of our members forwarded this email to me, which I am reposting in its entirity, what with the season I had not been aware of this coming back to the forground (we had talked about it last fall.)

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.
Many blessings.
Fran

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Potatoes

Here is a video highlight from our day of potato planting. video
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

"The calender doesn't lie,"

Yesterday when Farmer Hubby took advantage of the rain to run to Yoder's Produce Supply and pick up some rolls of plastic mulch, fertilizer (organic), and the last 250 pounds of our potatoes he happened to overhear a conversation.

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

Thanks, Rural King!

The problem with old tractors is they have a tendency to break, usually in the strangest ways. The problem with new tractors is they cost way more then we can afford right now.

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

Strange year....

April 6th and 100% plowed!

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

Seed Saving Class...

Where are you going to get your heirloom tomatoes this year? Where can you find a selection including Hillbilly, Brandywine, Garden Peach, Box Car Willee, Black Krin, Purple Cherokee, Plum Lemon, San Marzaon, Matt's Wild Cheery and more then 15 others along with heirloom peppers, a selection of herbs, lettuce, cabbage, and more? And where can you get them for an average price of about 83 cents each?

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

Farm Photos

I just found this website which lets you put together montages for free online. It is pretty neat!


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sad News...


We have some sad news today.

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.

You may be asking yourself "WHY?!?!" Well, we have decided that it is better to eat imported conventionally grown food then that we grow. Fortune magazine this month said "According to a recent Oxfam International report called 'Fair Miles- re charting the food miles map,' a tomato trucked in from Spain to Britain may be more environmentally friendly then a tomato grown in a greenhouse in Britain because that process needs energy intense farming techniques." This proved their myth "Buying Local Food is Better for the Environment."

We have decided to re-purpose our hoophouse into a tanning salon, so we will be putting down a kiddie pool and a layer of sand. We will be offering large game hunting opportunities on our land (does anyone know where I can get an elephant?) And our barn we will be turning into a U-storage facility.

Now CSA members may be asking themselves "But I already have paid for more then half the season!" Don't worry. We will be offering you weekly shares of cupcakes, produced by a friend of ours who is starting a cupcake business this May, so no worries. And your kids will like them more anyway.

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

A new toy...

This was this week's big purchase. And no, not the one from Yoder's Produce. This we bought at TSC. They were normally $1300. They had it marked down to $900 because one of the tubes had cracked. Farmer hubby looked at it and determined that somehow it had filled with water, which had frozen and expanded. So it needed some repairs. Talking with the manager, a couple phone calls on the store manager's part to higherups and hubby saying he would walk away resulted in a final price of $600.
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

Are you crazy or right?

When I started talking about BPA more than 5 years ago people looked at me like I was a total nut! It was a legal product which meant it could not be nearly as bad as I said it was.

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.
Finally after years the product is getting the attention it deserves. Fast Company - FDA. New York Times - EPA.
So next time you find something you are concerned about ask yourself are you crazy or right? Don't be afraid to be cautious when navigating your way through the sea of chemicals we swim in daily.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Taking care in all he does...

We picked up this great little book this weekend when we were at Yoder's Produce Supply called "Growing Produce - 2" written by Raymond Yoder. It is a great little book with lots of little gems of wisdom sprinkled throughout.


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.


How right that is. It is amazing when you drive to Amish areas you can always tell Amish farms by how nice they are kept compared with many of their neighboor's property. The same goes for all farms, although we realize how difficult it is to keep your farm looking nice in the middle of crazy season, it is so important...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

$1000 in supplies...

This is what $1000 in produce supplies look like!

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

Snow again...

See, I told you spring was not here yet! Not quite!

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

Bees!

I saw this today. All I can saw is I think the lady is pretty calm. Remeber if you see bees in a swarm like this they are as non-agressive as they ever are, and bees are usally pretty mellow. People wear bee suits of swarming bees with not a sting. Call a bee keeper and wait.



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

Supply order...

This weekend we are going down to pick up our potatoes at Yoder's Produce Supply.

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)

Any guesses on what the damage will be? I am cringing already!