Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giving Thanks

On this Thanksgiving Day, I share with you with well-chosen words of Wendell Berry and photos from gardens past.

"The pleasure of eating should be an extensive pleasure, not that of the mere gourmet. People who know the garden in which their vegetables have grown and know that the garden is healthy will remember the beauty of the growing plants, perhaps in the dewy first light of morning when gardens are at their best.

"Such a memory involves itself with the food and is one of the pleasures of eating. The knowledge of the good health if the garden relieves and frees and comforts the eater. ...

"A significant part of the pleasure of eating is one's accurate consciousness of the lives and the world from which food comes. The pleasure of eating, then, may be the best available standard of our health. And this pleasure, I think, is pretty fully available to the urban consumer who will make the necessary effort.

"I mentioned earlier the politics, esthetics, and ethics of food. But to speak of the pleasure of eating is to go beyond those categories. Eating with the fullest pleasure - pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance - is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world."

"In this pleasure we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend. ..."

(Wendell Berry from the 1989 essay "The Pleasures of Eating" as republished in Bringing it to the Table, 2009.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Lessons From Apples

Beautiful rosy red certified organic applesauce
By all accounts, 2016 was a great apple year in Potter County! Here on Crandall Hill, we were excited to harvest apples of many varieties from our fledgling certified organic orchard.
Last year we weren't so fortunate as late-spring frosts prevented the setting of fruit.
It was fun to experiment with the different kinds of apples going into the big old stock pot that has served through many canning seasons. This batch featured many different kinds of apples, including some that lent their rosy hue to the finished product. We're going to enjoy some for dinner tonight!

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Joy Of Beets

Beets are a crop we love to grow here on Crandall Hill. Whether they're planted early in the spring or later in the summer, they thrive in our garden spot.

Detroit Dark Red along with a couple Chioggia in the mix
They were planted mid-summer this year and we've been harvesting for about a month and a half. Today they're all coming out the ground and it's your last chance to buy these certified organic jewels.
Many folks are into juicing and finding fresh beets - let alone certified organic beets - is a chore in this area. Beets are high in fiber and rich in vitamins A & C. Here's a local, convenient source so call today 814-274-8004 to reserve yours.
Beets are high in fiber and rich in vitamins A & C.
I have found they keep well for several months in the refrigerator when they're lightly wrapped and when there's a paper towel to absorb any extra moisure that accumulates.
Here's a recipe to get you started.
Onion Beet Salad
2 1/2 lbs. of whole fresh beets
5 Tb. olive oil
1 large red onion, chipped
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tb. honey
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. pepper
Scrub beets and place on a large square of aluminum foil. Drizzle with some of the olive oil and turn to coat. Fold foil over beets and seal tightly. Bake in 400-degree oven for about an hour or until tender. Allow beets to cool and the skins will slip off.
Cut beets into cubes and place in large bowl. Add the onion. In separate bowl whisk together the vineyard, honey, salt, basil pepper and rest of the olive oil. Pour over beet mixture and gently toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, stirring occasionally. Serve with a slotted spoon.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Autumn Reflections

It seems like an older brother can get one's attention like no one else! Oldest brother Steven is visiting from Alaska with his wife, Johanna, and he mentioned that it seems I don't update the blog often. And he's right!
So today, while looking for photos needed by another sister-in-law, I downloaded a bunch of recent photos taken a couple of weeks ago on two sunny mornings in October.

Morning sun hits the venerable
old Northern Spy apple trees

The nearly-full moon was
still in the western sky as the
sun rose in the east.
Johanna mentioned that the beauty of fall in northern Pennsylvania was especially dear to her after all her years in Alaska where autumn "falls like a curtain and it's winter." And our autumn has been particularly beautiful this year - even today on the next-to-the-last day of October when the most colorful of the leaves have fallen.

The view from my back porch on Oct. 18.
Old orchard in the foreground and
potato field at the top of the hill.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

2016 Potato Harvest Complete

Arthur completed the 2016 potato harvest before the rains came on Thursday and they're all in storage. Now begins the sorting and packaging process.
We worked yesterday and this morning to sort, package and label an order for Todd Williams at Costa's Shursave Food Shop in Coudersport.
And that work really reminded me of my father. Some of my local readers will remember my father, Joe Heimel, who worked at the family's grocery store on Main Street in downtown Coudersport. Dad was the produce guy and he was a speed demon at sorting and preparing produce for display. And he was artistic to boot - hand-lettering signs and putting together attractive displays on benches out in the front of the store. His fruit baskets were works of art!
Our potatoes are on display at Costa's in a beautiful wooden rack, created by Arthur especially for this purpose. We've bagged our popular gourmet assortments as well as bags of individual varieties including red, purple and yellow potatoes.
Our USDA Certified Organic potatoes will also soon be available at Genesee Natural Foods.

Todd Williams from Costa's checking
out our new display rack.

Friday, September 30, 2016

USDA Organic Certification, Year Two

Wednesday morning we met with our certifier from Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO) for our annual site visit. This visit is the culmination of a process that began in January as we submitted our organic systems plan for managing our farm.

Binders containing
pertinent information such
as invoices, product labels,
receipts & other data
along with the PCO-provided
accordion file filled with paperwork.
And yes, the zinnias in the
vase on the dining room table
are certified organic, too!
The purpose of the annual inspection is to verify the information submitted electronically to PCO and to take a look at fields, storage facilities, etc. This year our fellow PATH participant, Alvie Fourness of Wooleylot Farm, was along to audit the process in his quest to become a USDA Organic inspector. Between them, they were very thorough and I was delighted to be able to locate all the documentation they requested.

We are pleased to report that we met all the criteria for year two of USDA Organic Certification for this old family farm. 

When we set our on the path to USDA Certified Organic certification, we knew that it would add additional expense and lots more record keeping than we were used to in all of our years of "organic" farming. But, we also felt we owe our customers the assurance that our farming practices – from the sourcing of organic seeds (and seed potatoes) to the management of disease and pests, to soil health and fertilization – meet the standards of organic production.

By achieving this certification, our customers can be assured that all of our farming practices meet the National Organic Program standards. In the words of PCO, this process provides "evidence of the operation’s adherence to a prescribed system of agriculture and food production that involves the building and enhancing of the soil naturally, protection of the environment, humane treatment of animals and avoidance of toxic synthetic substances."

And now it's on to complete our 2016 harvest  of certified organic potatoes and apples along with the last of the vegetables in the high tunnel.

Though the Farmers' Market is now done for 2016, please call us (274-8004) or email metzgerfarm@gmail if you're interested in buying any of our offerings. Presently we have lots of hot peppers (mostly Maya Red and Ring of Fire but some Hungarian Hot Wax, JalapeƱo, Czech Black, Hot Portugal); Swiss Chard; limited green beans in 1# quantities; lots of beets along with potatoes and apples.
We'll have potatoes soon at Costa's Shursave in Coudersport and at Genesee Natural Foods.
Thank you all for your support during the Farmers' Market season. I know I speak for all of the participants when I tell you that we appreciate your encouragement and friendly faces every bit as much as your purchases!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

South From Alaska

We've been back from our Alaska adventure for a week and, after a morning spent picking, washing and sorting tomatoes and beans, watering in the high tunnel, making a batch of oven-roasted spaghetti sauce, I'm stealing a couple of minutes of time to update the blog before working on freezing a batch of sweet corn.
We spent nearly two weeks in the Matanuska Valley in Alaska, where son Joe, Jen and their dog Niles have been making their home this past year.

The view from Joe & Jen's front yard
This area of Alaska is know for producing giant vegetables and the borough of Palmer takes full advantage of this distinction with lots of tourist promotion. Palmer is also the site of the Alaska State Fair which opens next week for its annual run.

You can read more about it at this link.

Of course we visited a couple of Farmers' Markets while we were visiting in Alaska and I'll post some photos of the market in Palmer in a later post.

And speaking of Farmers' Markets, we were on hand at the Potter County Farmers' Market last week with a nice supply of tomatoes, potatoes and more. That is due in a large part to the help of Elaine and Kristen Russell, who so conscientiously tended the farm in our absence. Thank you wonderful friends!

This week we'll be setting up with the other Potter County Farmers' Market vendors on Friday afternoon. Because we have evening plans, our booth will be closing up shop by 3:30 p.m. so come early if you are looking for luscious heirloom tomatoes and more!