Monday, February 24, 2014

Colorful French Fries!

We've been turning some of our gourmet potatoes into these colorful and delicious French Fries. It's interesting how the keep their colors - hues of rosy red, deep purple, yellow and white. Don't they make a unique presentation - a change from the run-of-the mill fries?
Want to try some yourself? We still have quantities of these colors available. Call (814-274-8004) or email ( for information.
We also have potato assortment bagged and available for sale at Costa's ShurSave Food Shop in Coudersport at the Schoolhouse Natural Foods just outside Eldred.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Farmers As Healers

I sat in a packed meeting room to spend some time with Daphne Miller, M.D. last week. The audience was a roomful of farmer-types, gathered for the opening keynote of PASA's 23rd Annual Farming For The Future Conference in State College.

Dr. Miller has most recently published her second book "Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing" that was the focus for her highly-engaging talk.

In researching her book, she spent time at seven sustainable family farms around the country - including time with one of my heroes, Wendell Berry (see blog post from January 2014).

She says, "The more I learned about the science of farming, the more I recognized its connections to medicine. For example, did you know that our gut physiology actually mirrors what happens in the soil? The intricate nutrient exchange between soil, microbe and plant is like the dance that takes place in our intestine, involving the mucosal lining, resident microbes and food (plants and animals). The biochemical makeup of soil also roughly matches ours, with a similar nitrogen-to-carbon ratio and the same range for normal pH (6.0 to 7.5). In fact, the carbon, nitrogen and every other mineral and vitamin building block in our body is derived from soil (via our food)."
She continues, "In other words, we are not simply nourished by the soil, we are of the soil! So, starting from that premise, it stands to reason that we should care for our bodies in the same way that a mindful farmer cares for the soil. And, of course, we should treat our farms and soil as if they are an extension of our body."
Dr. Daphne (as she is called by her patients at a busy Family Practice office in San Francisco) organized her talk around five health lessons to illustrate connections between health and soil. Her Health Lessons included:
  • Farm As Vitamin
  • Farm As Immune Support
  •  Farm As Community
  • Farm As A Model For Cancer Care
  • Farm As A Model For Stress Reduction
Dr. Daphne was interviewed during the PASA Conference by Patty Satalia from WPSU and that interview will air this afternoon (Friday, February 14) at 1:00 p.m., repeating at 1:30 a.m. Saturday and 7:00 a.m. Sunday. WPSU is heard in our area at 90.1 FM.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Farming For The Future

Metzger Heritage Farm was well represented at PASA's 23rd Annual Farming For The Future Conference. Arthur was present for the whole conference while Jen, Joe and I attended for a day or two.
This is our fourth visit to the conference and each time we marvel at the joy of being in a space with so many folks who are part of the sustainable agriculture community of farmers, foodies, artisans, vendors and activists.
Where else can you take part in workshops with such diverse topics as "Animal Powered Farming: The Path To Draft," "Farm Bill 2014," Homeopathic Methodology for Plants," "A Conversation On Milling," "Producing Asian Greens For Market or At Home," "Plant Communication, Behaviors and Environmental Interactions," or "The Business of Farming: $100,000+ on a Small Vegetable Farm."
I sat in on the Educational Programs Discussion Group for our North Central Region of PASA  (Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Elk, Lycoming, McKean, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Sullivan, Tioga and Union Counties) on Friday. It was good to see Lisa and Jeff Werner (hosts of a regional field day at their farm last summer) from Blue Marble Farm there! In a roundtable discussion, Board members asked us to provide them input on our unique educational needs.
I shared my perspective that PASA should consider building stronger relationships with existing organizations (particularly in our very remote and rural area) such as Cooperative Extension, the Conservation District, Education Council and Chambers of Commerce/Tourist Promotion Agencies. I also reminded the group that many of us don't have access to truly high speed internet to take advantage of videoconferencing streamed over the internet while centrally-located public facilities (such as the Potter County Education Council) has access to that technology.
We'll be blogging more about the PASA Conference in future posts. I'm particularly excited to share information from the Keynote Speech by Daphne Miller, M.D.

This post linked to From The Farm Blog Hop

Monday, February 3, 2014

Food In Jars

  We're fortunate to live in a house with a large collection of canning jars. They've been lined up on deep, weathered shelving units in the cellar for more years than any of us can remember.

There's quite a variety of jars in the collection down cellar. Many of them are  "lightning jars" (using a glass lid with a rubber gasket held in place by a metal clamp) in sizes ranging from half-pint to half-gallon. It is recommended that these not be used for canning these days but the rubber gaskets are still available.

With my limited research today, I expect that our jars would represent purchases made from the 1920s through the present. Many manufacturers have their insignias emblazoned on this collection of jars. It seems that Kerr jars were used more in the midwest and the west and Ball jars were more popular in the east. Square jars never gained popularity among housewives I read. I was also interested to read that the blue glass jars were manufactured until the late 1930s and took on their distinctive color from minerals in the sand and the amount of oxygen in the furnaces.
For those of you interested in learning more - perhaps to help date your own canning jar collections – a history of home canning in jars can be found here:

I've done my share of canning over the years and really enjoy it. There's something infinitely satisfying about prying the lid off a jar of home-canned anything! Sometimes I'm transported back to the moment I opened the lid on the canner, carefully directing the steam away from my face (thanks, Miss Goodrich!). Or maybe I remember pushing that huge Cherokee Purple tomato down amid the rosy redness of Brandywines or the deep redness of the Stupice tomatoes. Maybe I'm taken back to the time spent with my mother and mother-in-law snapping the ends from the green and wax beans enjoying the breezes on the back porch. Or maybe it's remembering the fiery peppers that went into the batch of Salsa I before I decided I really needed to wear food-preparation gloves when chopping them!

Sometimes my thoughts wander to what had been canned in those jars by others. Did that jar hold tomatoes grown by Papa Matteson? Maybe Auntie Snip and Grandma Metzger sat in the shade in the side yard and snapped beans that went into this jar. Did the jelly jar hold jam from blackberries picked on the fenceline?