Wednesday, December 28, 2011
This year, we are also enjoying the wild harvest including elk (harvested from the National Forest in Oregon where our daughter lives), venison and turkey from Potter County, wild Alaskan salmon and halibut.
The Christmas tree still stands in the "red room" on the Metzger Farm but this morning, Arthur and I shared coffee and farming plans for 2012. I think it's time to get out the flip chart we bought last year to plan our long visit to Oregon! Part of the plan for 2012 is increased networking and cooperation with other local farmers. Stay tuned for details.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
And if you still need some convincing that organic potatoes are far superior, how about this article titled "7 Foods So Unsafe Even Farmers Won't Eat Them" from PlanetGreen.com
4. Conventionally Grown (Not Organic) Potatoes
The Expert: Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board.
The Reason: Herbicides and pesticides may not be sprayed directly on root vegetables (since they're underground), but they absorb the chemicals through the soil and water. Because potatoes are considered the nation's most popular vegetable, producing a healthy crop is essential to keep up with demand. In order to maintain their health, the article exposes the scary fact that "they're treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they're dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting." But here's the scary thing, Moyer says that he's talked to potato growers "who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals.
"The Solution: Another no-brainer— Only buy organic potatoes.
Here's the link to the entire article if you're interested. http://planetgreen.discovery.com/food-health/foods-unsafe-doctors-eat.html
Friday, October 28, 2011
I learned about this and other food safety information by completing the Serv-Safe certification course offered by Penn State Cooperative Extension. I have been interested in learning about food safety so that, as farmers who grow vegetables and fruits, we are aware of potential contaminants.
I took the course through the efforts of the Potter County Education Council. If you're not familiar with the Ed Council, take a look at its website (www.pottercountyedcouncil.org) to learn about the many educational opportunities available in our locale.
Speaking of the Ed Council, the course instructor suggested that we also investigate GAPs (Good Agricultural Practices) training. He would offer the four-hour course through the Ed Council if ten folks showed interest.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Even I have to acknowledge that summer is long gone! Having been away for most of September, I was kind of pretending that time had stood still while I was gone and I would come back to tomatoes still growing on the vine, sweet corn on the stalk and fresh basil in the garden. Alas, it was just a daydream. We're working furiously to get all the potatoes harvested. Our new (old) one-row potato picker, purchased at auction from the Amish community here in Potter County, has met with limited success and the persistent rain (where were you last summer when we needed you?) hasn't helped much.
I still have carrots (planted late in the season) and shallots in the ground and will hold off on harvesting them until a real freeze is imminent. I should have quantities available for sale.
We made a small batch of apple cider on Sunday using our Northern Spy apples combined with Yellow Delicious. It is superb! More about apples and cider in future posts.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Friday, September 16, 2011
This is the third year we've grown soybeans in the garden. The first year I orded a packet of seed and at harvest allowed them to dry to save for seed. Last year the plan was to harvest them to be used as edamame. (If you're not familiar with edamame, check out the simple recipe below. They're an amazing and nutritious treat!) They were lovely and almost ready to pick and then the next morning they were gone -- thanks to some foraging deer.
This year we tried again. There were several long rows with beautiful healthy plants just loaded with bean pods. Arthur and Joe, hearing the weather report calling for frost, pulled most of the loaded soybean vines last evening. It's a bountiful harvest and we'd love to share with you! Shoot us an e-mail or call to let us know what you'd like.
EDAMAME are sweet young soybeans which make great hors d'oeuvres. They are packed with protein and fun to eat. The slightly fuzzy green pods tickle your lips as you suck the beans into your mouth. Provide bowls for the empty pods.
Here's how to prepare them:
Boil edamame 2-4 minutes. Drain and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Use fingers or teeth to squeeze edamame out of shell and eat. Don’t eat shells!
P.S. Eat some before putting down on table or you want get any!
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
The Olga Cafe and Bistro in Coudersport has also featured our potatoes in soup and salad this year.
We're working on plans to offer our 22 varieties of organic potatoes for sale through Genesee Natural Foods, both at their store in Genesee and through their distribution network that reaches natural food stores in the northeast.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Swiss Chard is a versatile green – sturdier than spinach, and it boasts a delicate flavor compared to other sturdy greens like kale or turnip greens. We plant Bright Lights Chard that features different color stalks. No matter what color they are, chard stalks are edible and add texture and flavor. Chard is a nutritional powerhouse, boasting high levels of calcium and potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A and beta-carotene, as well as two carotenoids which can help protect the eyes against vision problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
SAUTEED SWISS CHARD
1 1/2 Tb butter
1 1/2 Tb olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
A pinch of dried crushed red pepper
2 bunches Swiss Chard, cut into strips
Melt butter with oil in heavy large pot over medium-low heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper. Saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chard; stir to coat. Cover; cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Serves 4
Here's a recipe for a chard tart – perhaps a bit complicated for some but the flavor is amazing.
Swiss Chard Tart
1c whole wheat flour
1c unbleached white flour
1/2c olive oil
Stir until well blended and knead briefly. Press into 11" tart pan and refrigerate for an hour.
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 pound Swiss Chard, chopped
2T fresh basil (11/2t dried)
1/8t black pepper
3 large eggs
1/3 c half and half or milk
1c grated parmesan
Saute onion in a splash of olive oil. Add greens and saute for 10 minutes. Season with basil, salt and pepper and allow to cool a bit. In bowl combine eggs, half and half and parmesan, add greens, pour into crust.
Bake in lower half of oven until filling is firm 40-45 minutes. Cool to room temp before serving .
There are new surprises in the garden every day! Some are the good kind - like the beautiful cucumber that was waiting for me to pluck it from its leafy vine yesterday. Some are the bad kind, like the cabbage that was a snack for some animal (deer?) last evening. I am keeping a close eye on our shallots as they develop bulbs and the edamame soybean pods as they plumpen toward the perfect time to pick.
As mentioned in a previous post, our plans for this season were seriously curtailed but we do have some extra produce for market in addition to our main crop of potatoes.
I snapped a picture of this market box I prepared for a customer this morning. She was delighted to get some baby summer squash, new red and purple potatoes, green beans, lettuce, beets and Swiss Chard. If a basket similar to this interests you, please let me know and I'll put one together.
I'm currently sitting on the courthouse square in Coudersport at the Farmer's Market. It's held here every Saturday beginning around 9 a.m. Stop down and see me and the other farmers.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
We had the privilege of spending an extended period with Rowan and his folks in the spring after he was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor (a form of kidney cancer) in March. He weathered surgery to remove the tumor and an 18-week regimen of chemotherapy and now shows no evidence of disease.
While we were "out west" (folks in Oregon refer to Pennsylvania as "back east"), our son Joe, his friend Jen, and a legion of friends and family did an amazing job getting 250 lbs. of seed potatoes in the ground, along with rows and rows of peas, shallots, beets and other plantings. While our plans for the farm year were somewhat de-railed, I have been amazed at how the farm has come together this growing year. We're able to offer some vegetables for sale at the Farmer's Market and at Costa's ShurSave Food Shop. We took potatoes, Swiss Chard and lettuce to the fledging Roulette Farmer's Market on Monday. John Snyder used our peas and new potatoes to prepare gourmet offerings at Olga's Cafe and Bistro in Coudersport.
In the next couple of weeks, our farm focus will be on the continuing harvest of new potatoes. If you'd like to try any of the 22 varieties, come by the Farmer's Market in Coudersport (Saturdays beginning at 9 am) or in Roulette (Mondays beginning at 2:30 pm at the library) or send an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
If you're not able to make it to the market today, peas and potatoes from Metzger Heritage Farm are available at Costa's ShurSave Food Shop in Coudersport.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Since my last post, nearly everything in our lives has changed and plans for this year's growing season have changed too. Our Oregon family needs us to be there this spring and we're off within the next week for an extended visit.
Son Joe will be handling the farm in our absence and, in light of his willingness, I have planted seeds to start tomato, pepper, onions eggplant and melon plants to go in the soil in June.
We're also going forward with plans for shelling peas and potatoes and shallots and work on the orchard.
We won't have as many vegetables for sale this summer - at least not the early ones - but keep checking in for updates.
My next post will be about the visit from the folks from Rodale who are coming tomorrow for soil testing.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Yesterday I enjoyed one of those ah-ha moments that makes it all worthwhile. One of our potato customers spoke of being seated at the dinner table enjoying a supper which included our organically grown potatoes. Her husband turned to her and said "you know, these potatoes are really good." And he meant good in the best sense. And at that moment, they both "got it." The potatoes are really good. This couple has their own garden. They grow their own vegetables and they love good food. But this was different – for they truly noticed, and appreciated, the difference organic makes. It really does taste better.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Our contribution to the recent potluck growers' event last weekend was a pot of baked bird egg beans. The seeds for these beans (similar to French Horticultural Beans) have been saved year to year since they were introduced to this Pennsylvania farm by the Gooch family from West Virginia when two Gooch siblings married two Metzger siblings in the 1940s.
I enjoy introducing others to these tasty beans that are a favorite of our whole family. They're shell beans that we've grown on fences the past few years, though they also do well twining near the ground. The sturdy plants put out colorful pink and green pods filled with 6 - 10 fat beans that are beautifully speckled – burgundy and cream colored.
They're blanched briefly and then frozen. The family enjoys them cooked with a generous amount of butter in the cooking water, served with salt rising bread.
We've been experimenting with other ways of using them and I modified the following recipe from one of the Moosewood cookbooks.
1 large chopped onion
4 chopped garlic cloves (mine came Wooleylot Farm right here in Potter County)
2 Tb. olive oil
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 green or red peppers, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 qt. jar home-canned tomatoes
1 Tb. maple syrup (could also use honey, brown sugar or molasses if you prefer)
1 Tb. Dijon mustard
4 cups cooked bird egg beans
Saute the onions, garlic, celery and peppers in the oil for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the seasonings and continue to cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes, maple syrup, mustard and bring to a simmer. Add the beans and transfer to a baking dish. Bake at 300 degrees until some of the liquid has evaporated. Taste for salt and pepper and serve.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Tradition - heritage - legacy - nostalgia – all are words that seek to describe the indescribable stew that is stirred by living – and farming – where forebears have done the same. Arthur's tending chickens – and every time he steps into the chicken coop, he can hear and see his Pa who tended chickens in the very same space.
Our chicken project had its beginnings with an embryology project at school last spring. Looking at organic methods led us to Windy Ridge Natural Farms in Alfred, N.Y. This well-run and certified organic poultry farm is an inspiration and we appreciate the advice and knowledge its proprietor, Tim, has shared. So when Tim needed to find a home for some elderly hens late last fall, we added them to our small flock, heading up to Alfred under the cover of darkness so as not to upset the ladies! And in the meantime, Arthur ordered some peeps from "My Pet Chicken" – a business whose name says it all!
So now we're harvesting some lovely eggs of many hues and shapes – enough to even sell a few!
The ladies enjoyed their time outdoors on Sunday afternoon - just before the latest storm of winter covered the chicken yard with 15+ inches of snow.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
Here's a vegetarian recipe that features shallots.
5 cups cooked chickpeas (or use 3 cans of chick peas) (Note: If you haven't tried cooking dried chick peas, I encourage you to do so. Of course, they must soak overnight before cooking and they do take some time. You will be rewarded with much better-tasting garbanzos!)
1 cup cooked brown rice
4 large shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup fresh parsley
fresh rosemary (leaves only)
2/3 cup dried bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 375°F and lightly grease a 3-quart baking dish with olive oil. In a large bowl, mix the chick peas with rice, shallots, garlic, lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Mix the beaten eggs in a medium bowl with the cottage cheese, yogurt, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Fold in the parsley and rosemary and gently incorporate with the chick pea mixture. Spread the mixture in the baking dish and top with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and the bread crumbs and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until bubbling and golden. As with most casseroles, let stand for 10 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to mellow.
And on a different note ...
It's amazing what a few days of above freezing temperatures can do! We're marooned in a sea of dirty melted snow water and mud but I'm not complaining and neither are the chickens who are enjoying time outside. It sure has boosted their egg production!
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Here's a wonderfully simple recipe that incorporates two vegetables grown at Metzger Heritage Farm. There's nothing quite as good as mashed potatoes made with organically grown spuds. The true taste of potato shines through without the off-key notes sounded by sprout-inhibitor and herbicides and pesticides.
Shallot Mashed Potatoes
5 cups diced potatoes (no need to peel when organic!)
1 tsp. salt
1 cup shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 Tb. butter
1/3 - 1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup Parmesan or cheddar cheese (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste
In a cooking pot, cover potatoes with water, add salt. Cover pot and bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are soft. Meanwhile, saute the shallots in butter until soft (about 15 minutes).
Drain the cooked potatoes and return them to the pot, together with the shallots. Mash together, adding just enough milk to make the potatoes fluffy. Add cheese (if using) and then salt and pepper to taste.
Serve and enjoy immediately.
Friday, February 11, 2011
I was first introduced to shallots by my daughter Kate who is an accomplished cook. When I confessed my little shallot/onion secret, she only had to use shallots as they were intended in a recipe for me to know what I had been missing all those years.
Shallots are not readily available in our local supermarkets and when you venture out to Tops or Wegman's, you find them but you'll pay dearly.
That's why I decided to grow them three years ago. We've grown them for three seasons, each year experimenting with timing - both planting and harvesting, placement in the garden, and varieties.
I've refined my techniques and look forward to having more to market in 2011.
If you would be interested in purchasing shallots this fall, please let me know as soon as possible so I can plan adequately. I took the picture above yesterday so you can see that they keep beautifully.
I'll post a recipe which features shallots next time!
Update: I've joined Farm Friend Friday on www.verdefarm.com. If you like to read blogs, you'll find lots of farm-related ones here.
Monday, February 7, 2011
We could choose from workshops offered in three sessions and decided to split up to maximize our experience. The choices were varied.
I (Jane) sat in on Wes Jackson's presentation entitled "The Necessity For A 50-Year Farm Bill." Jackson was the keynote speaker on Friday and had the distinction of being a keynote speaker at PASA'S inaugural conference 19 years ago. My next choice was "So You Want To Be A Farmer: An In-Depth Look At Starting A Commercially Viable Produce Farm." After a break for lunch (where we enjoyed offerings such as no-egg salad sandwiches, quinoa tabouli and luscious whole wheat scones) and visiting as many of the exhibitors as we could, I enjoyed the presentation by two young representatives of AgSquared, a new software developer working on a product that is tailored to the needs of small farmers.
Arthur opted to attend two workshops offered by Michael Phillips of Lost Nation Orchards. Philllips is known across the country for helping people grow healthy apples and understand thehealing virtues of plant medicines. His third choice was "Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale: The Science and Impacts of Development" offered by Mike Arthur and Tom Murphy of Penn State.
We'll tell you more about what we learned in upcoming blog posts.
This is all part of planning for the 2011 growing season at the Metzger Heritage Farm on Crandall Hill. We appreciate those who supported our efforts in 2010. We still have beautiful potatoes from 2010 so send us an e-mail at email@example.com or call us at 814-274-8004 to place your order.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Many of us haven't taken the time and energy to really understand that when we make the choice to spray herbicide to control "weeds," we are making an unconscionable choice to poison ourselves, our environment and our children. This blog post at Homestead Revival provides an explanation about GMO and Monsanto's signature herbicide . Take the time to read it.
Friday, January 28, 2011
How do we change the ways that our schools prepare and acquire the food that is served to our children?
Those of us who are of a certain age can remember walking home (or to Grandma's) for lunch until the "new" school was built with a cafeteria. And in the kitchen of the cafeteria, the women who worked there arrived early in the morning and actually prepared real food to serve at lunch time. Granted, there were the loaves of white bread, and the fruit cocktail and the overcooked canned vegetables. But the cooks also took pride in their own "recipes" that were popular with the kids.
By the time my kids were in school, almost everything served in the cafeteria came from a box or the freezer. I've always wondered exactly what is a wiener wing? And that trend continues in the school cafeteria today.
A malfunction of the refrigerator at the school where Arthur teaches yielded boxes and boxes of frozen "fresh" vegetables and fruits and he rescued it from the dumpster to add to our compost pile. I was shocked to discover that the highly processed "baby" carrots and the "fresh" apple slices in their little plastic pouches had made the journey across the country from California's Central Valley to a little school in the mountains of Pennsylvania.
As part of our planning for our transition to organic, we've investigated marketing of our produce. Wouldn't it make perfect sense for our students to have access to carrots and apples from their own communities?
One knowledgeable member of our Transition Team discouraged us, citing the governmental rules that, in effect, make it nearly impossible to meet the "standards" of policy.
So how do we change that?
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Here on Crandall Hill, we've been dreaming through those colorful pages, comparing lists from previous years and doing lots of thinking and lots of talking as we plan for the growing season and other big changes on the horizon.
Here's a picture of the orchard taken yesterday as the snow continues to fall from the leaden sky. Can't you imagine those branches bursting into bloom in just a couple of months?