Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Hopeful Sign

Can you see it? That's a honeybee deep in the white crocus. Of course, this morning those crocus blooms are tightly closed as snow sprinkles from low-hanging clouds.

Monday, March 23, 2020

When Everything Changes

Metzger Heritage Farmstead
I took a walk around the farm yesterday in the brisk afternoon sunshine and captured this view of the farm from the top of the hill behind the house. It's similar to this one from two years ago. But our world has shifted in so many ways since that cheerful post.
Pandemic is a frightening word. Its stark reality changes everything. I had intended to write an update and lay out our plans for the coming year on the farm but I cannot find my words this morning.
I'll just paraphrase what the experts are saying: We all need to do our part to slow the spread of this virus. We can do that by being inconvenienced, by not doing all the things we love to do, by keeping our distance from those we yearn to see. We can all wash our hands, cover our coughs and sniffles, disinfect regularly. We can all learn new ways to make do with what we have and what we can acquire easily, while still leaving some for others.
How about writing a comment here telling me (and the readers of this blog) how you're doing and offering your tips about how you're managing your brave new world.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Another Reason To Buy Organic Apples

One the many varieties of USDA Certified
Organic apples grown on Metzger Heritage Farm
I was interested to read this in an article published by the Rodale Institute.
"A recent study conducted in Austria and published in 'Frontiers in Microbiology' found that conventionally grown apples host more pathogenic bacteria that can harm human health than organic apples. In contrast, organic apples are home to greater varieties of the 'good' bacteria, such as probiotics that can promote gut health."
Fascinated? Read more about the study in this article in Modern Farmer. 
Add this information to the fact that conventionally grown apples have more pesticide residues than any other fruit or vegetable. According to the Environmental Working Group's analysis of USDA data, pesticides showed up on 98 percent of apples tested.  Apples were found to have up to 48 different kinds of pesticides on them. Long-term exposure to pesticides is linked to cancer, infertility and neurological conditions, such as Parkinson's, and even small doses of pesticides are far more dangerous for children, with their smaller bodies and developing nervous systems.
Our organic apple orchard is blanketed in a layer of slushy snow on this January afternoon but winter's chill is just what they need! Fruit trees must go through a dormant period (known as a chilling period) to prepare to produce fruit the following summer.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Sustainable Agriculture In Project 2025

Potter County, Pennsylvania has been my home for most of my life. Arthur and I returned to Potter County in the late 1970s, found ways to make a living, established our places in community life, raised two children and step-by-step brought new life to an old family farm.
Our children, while they both appreciate their small-town upbringing, are building their lives, families and careers far from Crandall Hill.
That's one of the reasons I am watching with great interest, the launch of Potter County's Project 2025. 

Project 2025 is being developed by the Potter County Commissioners to address continuing population loss and the out-migration of our young people. The Project aims to "assemble stakeholders, conduct intensive research and implement a strategy to reverse population loss and median age growth by the end of 2025."

Those are admirable and lofty goals. Commissioner Barry Hayman made the following comment on a Facebook post:
Let's not forget our farmers in all this. Agri-tourism, small unique local products and producers could also be big in the mix. Potter County Pure could mean something, especially for those looking for 'clean' alternative to products made by factory farms.
I agree with Mr. Hayman and, further, I think continuing to work toward a vital, strong local foodshed is one of the key ways young people can be attracted to the kind of rural lifestyle Potter County offers.

Click here to access a recent document compiled by the Young Farmers Coalition "Growing Pennsylvania's Future:  Challenges Facing Young Farmers and Recommendations to Address Them."

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Cider Time Again.

Remember the flavor of old-time cider?
You can enjoy that taste experience once again when you try the cider pressed from our USDA Certified Organic apples.
First pressing will be Friday, October 4 and you must order by Thursday, October 3.
If this isn't convenient for you, we will be planning additional trips to the cider mill as additional apple varieties ripen.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Now There's Some Heat!

Hot! Hot! Hot!
Sarit Gat, Caribbean Mix, Early JalapeƱo, Czech Black
Ring Of Fire, Hungarian Hot Wax, Hidalgo, Lipstick Hot

All the hot peppers I so lovingly started from seed last spring are ready, and there are way more than I can use. I'm offering the extras for sale - perfect for salsa and anything else that needs an extra kick!
Prices: $2.50/pint for all but the Caribbean Hots which are $3.50/pint. All our produce is USDA Certified Organic.
Please email us at or send a private message on our Facebook page. Telephone is 814-274-8004.
Aside from using them fresh for seasoning, my favorite use is making my own hot pepper flakes by dehydrating them and then putting them in the food processor. A word of caution ... be sure to wear gloves when preparing the peppers for the dehydrator. I also wouldn't recommend running the dehydrator in the house. And finally, protect yourself when you grind them. I've taken to wearing a mask!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Tomato Sauce

August is the month when it all comes together for tomato growers.  In my hoop house, though the tomato plants have lost their original lush growth through pruning to control bacteria, the vines are heavy with fruit in various stages of ripening. And they are so delicious.
It's probably not fair for me to boast here about these culinary delights since we're not offering vegetables at the Farmer's Market this season. However ... I can't resist!
While I've been busy canning tomatoes in quart and pint jars, I need to turn more of them into this wonderful roasted tomato sauce.
It all starts like this:

That's an assortment of my wonderful heirloom tomatoes, layered in a large rimmed baking pan lined with parchment paper, sprinkled with salt and drizzled with olive oil Add a liberal amount of crushed whole garlic cloves and roast in the oven set at 425 degrees. It takes some time but keep a close watch after an hour or so, depending upon the juiciness of the tomatoes you've chosen. (I tell you this because this batch of sauce pictured here scorched when I failed to keep close track of it!)
Allow it to cool then pass through a food mill to remove skins and seeds. Package and freeze.

Now a brief note about a fall crop ... APPLES! We will be offering our USDA certified organic apples for sale as they ripen. We will have both high quality large eating apples and "seconds" which are apples with some imperfections but perfect for applesauce, pie filling etc. In addition, we will be having cider pressed by a processor again this year. This year you will need to order in advance and take delivery on the day it's processed. More details will be announced but if you'd like to be put on a list for either, please email at