Supporting Community Agriculture since 1997
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Week 4 newsletter

The Weekly Menu

 

What you can roughly expect to receive each week:

Please note: this CSA summary is written ahead of time, and before we even harvest on Tuesday.  We do some guesswork:  some things may be in your CSA that aren't listed and some things may not be included.  Although we're the farmers, we're still at the whim of Mother Nature. 

This week Lettuce 2 - 3  heads, Parsley- one bunch, Kohlrabi 1-2, Kale or Chard,  and possibly.... beets (we need to make sure there's enough for everyone!)

We have a good friend who helps us tremendously on the farm and in our family.  In fact, I can't imagine doing without her!  She showed up here on Saturday and put herself shoulder deep in the tomatoes and weeds.  She attacked the weeds and let off some steam, telling me later that she had pent up stress and frustration that just came out in the act of, what we like to call, Thistle Genocide.  It felt productive, meditative, and releasing.  

I do miss those days, when I could spend a couple hours by myself, immersed in the job.  This was before smart phones and podcasts.  Dare I say.... before kids.  It's peaceful out there in the dusk, as the birds are singing their evening songs, and the lightning bugs start to twinkle their dance.  It's cool, calm, and just the medicine a harried mother needs.... no matter how old her kids are!  


Sound tempting?  Get in touch if you'd like to do some "active meditation"!

Life is different now, with kids - and we make the best of it and enjoy the quirky complexity that they add to life!  

 

Greg's got something to say: 

 

(This is an old photo of Greg and Evelyn at the Mother Earth News Fair - during the Farmer Olympics)

Like Jen said in the last newsletter, there are a lot of new memebers that haven't known us long enough to realize how far we've come.  It's unique that we're able to provide you with organic produce and pastured meats from right here in Allegheny County. 



I can't believe we've been at this for 10 years! Time has flown by for me, and I've done nearly every job on the farm at some point, but now I focus on maintenance and service to the farm boss(es): Jen (and Evelyn).   The crops I tend to think about the most are animals and perennial fruits. Mostly because of the vast amounts of time I spend moving "stuff" around the farm on tractors, in trucks and on foot, I get to see parts of the farm that Jen rarely considers "production fields".  


Like Jen, I didn't grow up on a farm, I grew up in the suburb Borough of West View and went to North Hills High School. While I tried a lot of sports, I played Rugby during my senior year in High School for the club at Carnegie Mellon University. My academics were fairly broad, I studied two years of Architecture with a focus on environmental design before finishing my education at Slippery Rock University, with two Bachelors Degrees, two Minors and a Masters of Sustainable Systems.  Both of my parents were teachers, and one of the greatest lessons I've learned from them is how to teach others. 


When we "bought the farm" ten years ago, my role was to support the business by making inroads into the local food scene of Pittsburgh... which was fledgeling 10 years ago!  Slow Food Pittsburgh and their cadre of foodies were blazing the trail and I took a job with the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture for two years to help share my market research and business planning processes with regional farmers. There were only 6 "CSA" farms in Pittsburgh at the time, and the Famers' Market Alliance was struggling to build a strong farmers market culture here in the region.  Things have dramatically changed over the years, some for the good, and some for the worse.


This winter I left the farm for a second time to work for Penn's Corner Farm Alliance and help them transition leadership (over 6 months) as 7 of 9 staff members transitioned out of the office. I consider it a triumph that PCFA was able to function without missing a delivery despite the big turnover, and 'drama' of a small farmer owned cooperative trying to remain relevant as much larger distributors have begun using technology and their ingenuity to procure and source produce from small niche local farms.  


Other than that... I've been suiting up every morning in patched and mended Goodwill clothes to get absolutely filthy everyday. It's funny to think how much I'm frustrated by the challenges of marketing and sales to then celebrate the triumphs of moving our livestock (without drama) into a new paddock, and seeing their glee in discovering new forage!  There are certainly ups and downs, which continuously remind me that there's a reason only 0.2% of the population actively participates in growing food for the other 99.8%.


Thanks to all of you for supporting us over the last decade!  When Jen and I ask ourselves why we keep going with these ups and downs, the answer is always the same: we are one of the only farms to actively engage our customers and their families in the ancient (and desperately needed) craft of food cultivation... and our customers need us as much as we need them.  We are proud to be one of the only Community Supported farms of our region, and we will continue as long as there are customers who appreciate what we do.  Thanks for being one of those folks!

Work Day Sign ups for "Mud Pie Days" 

We had a nice turn out of kids and moms last Tuesday.  It's really great to have new friends to play with and new helping hands on the farm.  Now that this looks like it might be a popular idea - I'd like to get a handle on how many kids are coming and which parents are willing to spend a couple hours helping to monitor the kids!  Please click on this link to sign up for roughly 2 hour long sessions throughout the growing season.

Kids are welcome to help be in the fields - so long as they are conscientious of where they walk and what they pull out of the ground!  Please bring snacks and lunches for your own kids.  

 

You can buy pork by the piece, the Homestead Hog CSA Share, or by the 1/2 hogInterested in pork?   There's a few new items for you to try:  We have 1 lb packages of unseasoned sausage patties (great for the grill), fresh side (unsmoked and uncured belly bacon), ham loaf (recipe in week 2 newsletter), and THICK cut chops - seriously... 2" thick?!  There's lots of roasts, steaks, and a few hams for sale too.  We feed our hogs all verified non-GMO grains, veggie scraps, and pasture.  They've a good life and they produce a quality meat!  

Customers who want to Workshare:  Some of you have already signed up for workshare, thank you!  Maybe you're interested but can't commit to coming out weekly?  No problem. As long as you are here more often than not, we are happy!  If you'd like to do a workshare with us, just show up on Tuesday and/or Saturday at 9. We will get you oriented and then talk details. An email or text would be nice, but not necessary. 

Customers who would like to spend time in the fields:  If you'd like to come out and get a little dirty and see what we are up to, we are happy to have "working visitors" almost any day, except for Wednesday, Saturday afternoon or Sunday. 

If you want to bring the family, check out the farm, visit some farm animals, and snack on a few cherry tomatoes, then you should come by on Wednesday 11-7 or Saturday 2-5. Bring a picnic, buy some veggies, relax, and enjoy the countryside! 


Our Market Card Program - is a great way to support our farm up front when our risks are higher.  You can buy any of  our home-grown items in our barn with the market cards.  For $50 your get $60 worth of purchasing power!

Looking for a bit of respite form the city? We have two (soon to be 3) bedrooms available on AirBnB.  Come out and spend a few days living like a farmer.... or watching us farm.  Click this linkfor more info.

 


Find us at area Farmers markets:  Lawrenceville,  Arsenal Park Saturday 1-4.  Phipps Green Market, Phipps Conservatory- Wednesday 2:30-6:30, and Pitt Farmers Market in front of the Union on Thursdays 

We are not maxed out on CSA memberships.  If you know someone who's looking for a healthier lifestyle, curious about local organic food, or wants to eat fresh, nutrient dense food - send them our way (and make sure they mention your name to receive $25 off in the barn or market stand).


CSA Pick up Details:


If you're coming to the farm to pick up: Stop at the wooden barn by the road  (at 7115 Ridge Rd) it will be open Wednesday from 11am - 7 pm and Saturday 2 - 5 pm.  Just park by the old wooden barn and come in.  We'll check your name off and give you an intro to our CSA system.  Bring your own bags please!

If you're picking up at the Phipps Farmers Market: We'll be at our market stand from 2:30pm - 6:30pm.   Swing by and pick up your veggies.  Bring your own bags please!  If you'd like us to bring down items that we sell in the barn - just let jen@blackberrymeadows.com know.  Each newsletter will list the items we have for sale.

 

Be sure to carve out some time for yourself.  We're now happy to have Alyssa from Adore´Yoga to host Sunset Yoga on the Farm.  Each Wednesday 5:30-7:00  Rain or Shine.  $10.  Please bring your own mat.

 

We've got a great line-up of Farm Movie Nights!   



We're kicking the series off on July 15th with a few Classic Comedies. Our quadruple feature is 8:30 - Midnight.  Bring your lawn chairs, BYOB, snacks and blankets.  We're happy to supply the popcorn, and will have Natrona Bottling Pop available for sale too!

Africa_Screams  (abbott & costello) 1hr 19min

The_Gold_Rush  (Charlie Chaplin) 1hr 35min

Brideless_Groom 17min 3 stooges

Disorder_in_the_Court 18min

Please RSVP if you plan to attend - we want to have enough popcorn ready for you!

Culinary Tips and Tricks:


Cooking and Preserving ideas - among other culinary hints for produce from the farm:
 
Here's where we will provide you with our favorite recipes for some of the produce you will be getting each week.  We'll also provide links to other helpful websites.  Feel free to share your recipes with us and we'll pass them around our CSA community!


Garlic Scape and Gruyere Biscuits 

This recipe (or one close to it) came recommended from one of our workshare members.  It's time to get busy figuring out what to do with all those scapes!!  

Yields 14 biscuits
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Ingredients:

-2 cups all purpose flour
-1 tablespoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
-1 1/4 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
-1/4 cup chopped garlic scapes
-3/4 cup buttermilk
-2 tablespoons melted butter

Method:

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Add the cold butter and, using a pastry blender or your fingertips, mix the flour and butter together until small, coarse crumbs form. Stir in the cheese and garlic scapes. Add the buttermilk and, using a rubber spatula, stir to form large, moist clumps.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead 4 or 5 times, until the dough just holds together. Using floured hands, press the dough together to form a large ball. Roll out the dough to 1/2-inch thickness, dusting with more flour as needed. Using a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out the dough and transfer the rounds to the prepared baking sheet. Gather up the scraps, reroll and cut out more rounds. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter.

Bake, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through baking, until the biscuits are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Makes 14 biscuits.

Kohlrabi

Maybe you don't know what to do with that strange purple alien spaceship of a vegetable you got this week?  Well - peel it, slice and salt and eat it up.  That's easy!  You an also grate it and make kolhrabi slaw, or kohlrabi pancakes, you can pickle it or steam it.  A very versatile veggie and one of my favorites for a quick snack!

 

Thanks for choosing our CSA.  We strive to grow nutrient dense, wholesome foods for you.  We think what we do is hard work - but important for our family, friends, and community.  There's a few things that we find important: growing good food, participating in the local economy, being good stewards to the environment, providing our community with access to a farm, farm animals and the outdoors, and teaching new and beginning farmers what we know.  By being a CSA member and supporting our endeavors, you're helping us to achieve our goals.  Thanks!!

Sincerely,

Your Farmers,



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