Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Staff Of Life

Our wheat field was very small when measured against the standards of agribusiness - or even small scale farms. The wheat (a variety of hard red spring wheat named 'Glenn' and acquired from Lakeview Organic Grain in Penn Yan, N.Y.) was sown originally as a cover crop but as it ripened in the field, Arthur began to turn over in his mind ways to harvest our certified organic grain.

Our friend Jerry Houwer offered the use of an old Allis-Chalmers All Crop Harvester, Model 66, circa 1950s that was stored in his barn. And so one September afternoon, Arthur drove up Fishing Creek pulling the hulking orange apparatus.
Days were spent just getting it into shape - with the expertise of Bryan Morley and our neighbor Roy Thompson who just couldn't resist stopping by when he saw the vintage machine parked in the driveway. Roy brought firsthand knowledge, harkening back to the days he'd spent helping Don Stearns and Shorty Pepperman with their oat harvests on long-ago Crandall Hill summer afternoons. He even pointed Arthur in the right direction to find a pulley on a old combine on the Thompson farm.
Farmer Art with Farmer Roy and the Allis-Chalmers Combine

On harvest day, Roy Thompson was joined by his son Rob (who took these photos) and even Jerry Houwer stopped by to watch.


From the very beginning, this grain project brought together many folks who share a heritage on our Potter County hilltop. Mike Snyder (who grew up just down the road from here) graciously transported the seed from Penn Yan to us on one of his trips to lend a hand to his son, John (proprietor of Olga's Cafe and Gallery in Coudersport).

This Crandall Hill heritage also includes this John Deere combine that rumbled along in these fields back in the 1950s.
Walter Metzger on the tractor with either Arthur Matteson or
Arthur Metzger Sr. on the JD Combine.
Perhaps the photographer Wanda Gooch Metzger can tell us

Wondering what we're going to do with the organic wheat we harvested? I'll show you in the next blog post - somewhat reminiscent of the Little Red Hen.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Certified Organic by Pennsylvania Certified Organic

Friday marked our last day at the Potter County Farmers' Market. It was a cold, damp day and all the vendors huddled around the courthouse square shivered and struggled with making change as the winds threatened to blow away our hard-earned dollars!
Preparation for this final Farmers' Market included the adding of this label to our business cards and produce bags. You could say it was a labor of love ...
And then there's the sign (laminated at the very last minute by our friend Andy Kulp at KOS).

So ... do you think we're a little bit proud of this accomplishment?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

USDA Organic Certification In Sight!

Arthur and I spent the afternoon on Friday with the inspector from Pennsylvania Certified Organic. He sat down at our dining room table, opened his laptop and began a painstaking review of our organic systems plan. We had prepared for his visit by pulling out binders, receipts and notes, gathering seeds, fertilizer and other inputs and anything else we thought he might need. Then together we toured the fields, gardens, orchards, high tunnel and barns.

He will submit his report to PCO early this week and we're keeping our fingers crossed that we'll have the certificate in hand by month's end.
Here's the description of Organic Agriculture from the USDA Website:

What is Organic Agriculture?

Organic agriculture produces products using methods that preserve the environment and avoid most synthetic materials, such as pesticides and antibiotics. USDA organic standards describe how farmers grow crops and raise livestock and which materials they may use.
Organic farmers, ranchers, and food processors follow a defined set of standards to produce organic food and fiber. Congress described general organic principles in the Organic Foods Production Act, and the USDA defines specific organic standards. These standards cover the product from farm to table, including soil and water quality, pest control, livestock practices, and rules for food additives.
Organic farms and processors:
  • Preserve natural resources and biodiversity
  • Support animal health and welfare
  • Provide access to the outdoors so that animals can exercise their natural behaviors
  • Only use approved materials
  • Do not use genetically modified ingredients
  • Receive annual onsite inspections
  • Separate organic food from non-organic food

We'll see you at the Potter County Farmers' Market on Friday,  offering for sale our vegetables grown organically right here in our own community. This week we will have peppers of all temperatures and colors; winter squash including acorn, butternut, buttercup, Red Kuri, delicata; leafy head lettuce; fresh herbs; string beans; carrots; beets ... and whatever else is still growing. And be sure to ask us about Organic Certification!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Summer's End

Sweetie Cherry Tomatoes
If you read the sidebar on this blog, you'll see that we were selected to participate in the Path To Organic program administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. The program was designed to assist farmers in transitioning to certified organic production.
On Friday, an inspector from Pennsylvania Certified Organic will be coming to Crandall Hill for a site visit. He has reviewed our Organic Systems Plan and will sit down with us to go over details and then tour our farm.
We're excited about taking this step in the process and have been working hard to have everything ready for this visit.
And since we won't be at the Farmers' Market Friday, let me update you on our late-summer garden.
Hungarian Hot Wax

Ancho Poblano Peppers

Grandpa Admire's Lettuce
Rosa Bianca Eggplant
Cauliflower On A Dewy Morning

Ring Of Fire Cayenne Peppers
Golden California Wonder Sweet Pepper

Mid-Summer Tomato Crop

Ready To Become Roasted Tomato Sauce

It's Edamame Time

Every year about this time, the edible-podded soybeans are ready. For the uninitiated, they're known as edamame and you can find them on the menu at the Chinese restaurant in Coudersport and the Japanese restaurant in Olean. They're available in the freezer cases at Wegmann's, TOPS and Genesee Natural Foods - either shelled or still in their fuzzy pods.
And, for a limited time, they're available fresh from the vines at Metzger Heritage Farm.
We're not going to be at the Farmers' Market on Friday ... I'll tell you more in another post ... so if you want some, please get in touch as soon as possible. Telephone is best at 274-8004 (814 area code). Our email is
If you've never tried edamame, here's a recipe I have adapated from one that appeared in Bon Appetit magazine.

Blistered Edamame
Sizzling in the cast iron frying pan
1/2 pound fresh edamame
1 Tb. olive oil
2 dried chiles (I dry my own each year. Pictured is one half of a Ring of Fire cayenne and one half of a Maya Red habenero.)
3 cloves of garlic, smashed (leave peel on)
Zest from half a lime
Lime wedges
Kosher salt
Wash edamame and steam gently over boiling water for a couple minutes until the pods turn bright green. Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan (I prefer cast iron) over high heat and add olive oil to coat pan. Drop edamame from the steamer basket into the hot skillet, add chiles and garlic cloves. Cook and stir over high heat for about 5-7 minutes until pods are golden and blistered. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with lime zest and Kosher salt to taste. Serve with lime wedges. To eat, hold the pods with your fingers and put in your mouth, slide the tender little morsels out between your teeth and discard the shells. Sometimes the little fuzzies on the pods tickle your lips!
If you like things spicy, add a few hot pepper flakes too!

Here they are, ready to enjoy!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thinking About Heritage


Property that is or may be inherited; an inheritance.
• Valued objects and qualities such as cultural traditions,
unspoiled countryside, and historic buildings that have been
passed down from previous generations
Standing in the back Dawn Thompson Matteson holding Arthur Metzger,
Arthur Matteson, Thelma Matteson Metzger, J. Walter Metzger
A faded photograph stored in a box in the barn caught my attention this morning as I was searching for something else. And now, instead of continuing my search, I've carried the photo inside to study details captured on that 1924 late summer day. We've dated the photo from the age of the little boy in the arms of his grandma. He's Arthur Metzger Sr., named for his grandfather standing next to him. Neither Arthur Jr. nor I can positively identify the stern folks seated in front but perhaps others from our family will.
And so on this August day well into the 21st Century, I'm thinking about the past and the future as I must follow the same path to the garden that those folks did and  pick beans for tomorrow's Farmers' Market.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Catching Up With Cukes!

I know we've been crazy busy but I was shocked when I logged in here today to discover how long it's been since I've written anything on my blog. I love reading other blogs and understand that it's a common story. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more are immediate and require less thought.
But, that being said, I made these refrigerator pickles this morning utilizing some of my burgeoning harvest of cucumbers and would like to share the recipe and process. It's a great way to make just a quart of pickles with no need to haul out the canner. They are ready after 24 hours but I have found that they really need at least a week to best develop the flavor.

Refrigerator Dill Pickles
(Makes 1 quart)
Fill a quart jar with whole pickling cucumbers or sliced cucumbers. Don't be afraid to pack it full.
Add 4 garlic cloves (peeled), 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds, a pinch of hot pepper flakes (more if you like heat), 1 Tb. coriander seeds and a generous handful of fresh dill sprigs. (Later in the season you can use the seed heads instead).
In a non-reactive saucepan combine 1/2 cup + 1 Tb. distilled white vinegar, 1 1/2 Tb. Kosher or pickling salt, 1 Tb. sugar. Heat until sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from heat and add 1 cup cold water. Pour over cucumbers in the jar. It should cover all the cukes.
Cover and place the jar in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to develop. The pickles should keep for at least a month - but in my experience, they won't last that long.

We're not taking our produce to the Potter County Farmers' Market thus far this summer. However, we do have some vegetables available now and more will be ready in coming weeks. If you have interest, call (274-8004) or email ( and we'll talk about how we can connect.