Farm Journal 4/25/21

New in the Store front: DOG TREATS! Eggs, SEEDLINGS (TOMATOES! and more ) and Produce.

You can place your order here for pick up at:

The Farm this Wednesday 11 – 7

The Northside (801 Union Pl, Pittsburgh, PA 15212) this Wednesday at 3:30/3:45

***If you miss the pick up window, please get in touch to schedule another time***

Coupon Code Now Available!

Enter Coupon Code: GV4QA7MM at check out.

I’ve learned how to create and process coupon codes on our website. Finally, we now have 10% off of all Market Cards until the end of May. (If you’ve already bought market cards, we’ll add 10% to your cards.) This is an incentive to mimic the pre-purchase program of the CSA. Market Cards will no longer be available after May 31st. After that, you’re welcome to buy Gift Cards, but no discount will be provided.

In years past, we had market cards that were only good for purchasing items that were only produced by us, like our veggies and meats. Now, no more confusion! The market cards can be used for all products that we have at the farm stands!

As we catch up with modern marketing age – we now have gift cards that are swipe-able and can be reloaded. I can program your gift card into our Point of Sale, so if you forget your card, it’s still in our system.

We’re thrilled to announce that we qualified for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP Loan) and are now able to hire part time employees this year! We have 3 great folks lined up and we’ll introduce you to them throughout the season. You’ll remember Em, from last year. She was our master pizza maker for most of our pizza nights, and is great at filling in the gaps where projects get left off, drag on, or need to be wrapped up. We’re glad to have her back for another year! More about the new folks later!

Field Update

All of the crops held their own through the cold snap. Even the apples and pears seem to be OK. We covered many crops in the fields – arugula, lettuce, beets, broccoli, and cabbage. Others, I knew would be fine, like the onions, radishes, spinach and peas.

I have a hunch that we are over the hump and won’t likely get another cold snap in the spring. That said, I’ve never been one to get my tomatoes in the fields as soon as I can. I’ve had too many sleepless nights hoping that the poor tomato seedlings will make it. I always wait until a nice day around May 18th and then plant those babies outside!

We seeded arugula early on in the high tunnels, and were hoping for a crop. But we had those hot, 80 degree, sunny days and everything bolted. The kale, spinach, arugula, and scallions are all bolting! It’s due to such dramatic temperature fluctuations in the high tunnels. We’ll tear out the spring crops and get some tomatoes and peppers into the high tunnels where they will be protected.

We’re getting asparagus crowns in the mail next week, and I’m going to try my hand at sheet mulching with (unwaxed, non glossy) cardboard, and heaps of Agrecycle compost. Then, we’ll just plant the crowns directly into the compost. I’m hoping that this idea will work (I saw it on youtube!). We had an old asparagus patch that we inherited with the farm. It was overcome with weeds when we got it- and wasn’t possible to reclaim. We’ll give this new section a fresh start and unfortunately will have to wait 3 years before we can really start harvesting!

Our first round of peeps are graduating and moving into the chicken tractor. They’ll soon be out in the fields grazing on clovers and grass, soaking up sun and fresh air. They help with fertilizing fields, weed and insect management, and keep us entertained. New peeps come in the mail this week. We get 30 peeps in the mail every month. In about 8 weeks, it takes a crew of 4 – 5 people a half a day to process that many birds. Generally, it’s a busy and monotonous activity – but always done with respect. In fact, Greg makes sure to thank each bird before we butcher it. In typical farm family life, the kids always like to step in and help. Evelyn’s hands are small and can clean out the internal bits easily, while Olivia likes to focus on details and pluck out feathers that the plucking machine missed.

Now maybe this type of conversation makes you squeamish. That’s understandable. Some folks don’t want to know too much about what they eat. But for me, when it comes down to making a choice between “ignorance is bliss” and “know better, do better”, I always strive for the latter. Industrial Chicken Farming is the reason that grocery store chicken can be so cheap. But the savings found on the store shelf stops there. We all pay the price for cheap food, whether its the farmer that’s tied to the agGiant (Tyson, Perdue, etc.) that dictates and financially constrains the farming operation, the watershed that’s polluted, the farm worker’s hazardous work environments, the animals housed in less than acceptable conditions and medicated for stress and sickness, or the consumer that has untold health consequences associated with diet, environmental pollution, etc.

I realize that there’s often a disparity between those who can afford to buy the small batch, ethically raised meats and veg, those who have time and knowledge to prepare and eat home cooked meals, and those who are just trying to maintain modern day survival in this society. There’s organizations out there that are trying to make farm fresh food accessible to all, and we’re happy to partner with them whenever possible. Each summer, we work with Just Harvest, to allow folks with SNAP and EBT Benefits to purchase our products at market. We also accept FMNP checks and are happy to help make our products available through donation and cost sharing. Please reach out if you have any questions! Buy Fresh Buy Local and 412 Food Rescue are also doing an amazing job at getting good food into everyone’s kitchen.

How would society change if we all thought of “Food is Medicine”? It would have a systemic change, from the very soil our food comes from, to the air we breathe, to the health of each and every one of us. Imagine if nutrient dense, fresh, and regeneratively grown foods were the norm and the sugar laden, artificial cheap and easy foods were the the products that are hard and expensive to get? Keep it local!

We get a lot of these boxes and are happy to share them with anyone looking for moving boxes, cardboard for mulch, or…. whatever. If you need boxes, we’ll share! Free! As many as you’d like! Please! Basically a good, sturdy, clean and dry box. Go for it!

Evelyn’s Photo Journal: (a kid’s life on the farm)

This is how the spring that Papa is working on looks when its clear water. I like to leap from where I’m standing to the other side, right to the grassy spot. I like to throw in rocks and make big splashes too.
This is my tree that I climb and swing on. It’s kind of like my home-base when I play games. The little platform is my “room” and then I just have to climb down one limb, hop on the swing and I’m down! Sometimes, when the pigs are in this pasture they come visit me.

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