Saturday, November 25, 2017


There was lots of chatter about the cost of providing a Thanksgiving feast on social media this season. From where I sit, I do understand that food costs are a big chunk of everyone's budget but here's different perspective (with a nod to fellow farmer Laura Mangan).

When we complain about the high cost of food, let's take a closer look at what we're getting for our food dollars. Are our food choices nourishing our bodies and brains or bathing our cells in a chemical and hormonal stew?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Catering For A Wedding

When son Joseph and his best girl Jennifer first began talking about their nuptials, a fabulous wedding feast was near the top of the list of must-haves. They envisioned a table that brought together all the tastes they've come to love - fresh vegetables, wild-sourced meat and fish and a side of sweets.
Joseph and Jennifer Metzger on their wedding day

Since the bridal couple lives in Alaska but were tying the knot in Elk County, Pennsylvania, much of the planning fell to the parents of the bride and the parents of the groom. And when the parents of the groom are organic farmers, you can imagine where this is heading!
But first, one must find a caterer who is up to the challenge of preparing wild-caught salmon and moose from Alaska and vegetables that still bear traces of the soil in which they were grown. Meet Ben Samick of Just Ben's Catering.
And so the menu was set - Salmon (with choice of two sauces served on the side so the exquisite taste of the fish stands on its own), Alaskan Moose Roast and Moose Sandwiches. That takes care of the protein side of the menu.

For the vegetables, the bride and groom chose an assortment of vegetables grown right here on the Metzger Heritage Farm.

Beets - a selection of Chioggia, Detroit Dark Red, Golden  

Mixed salad greens grown in our high tunnel
Tomatoes complemented the salad - golden, red and black cherry
Carrots are always delicious - especially when used in a
carrot cake baked by the bride's mother
Green beans were also grown in the high tunnel for an October harvest

A colorful potato assortment
And we didn't forget the decorations either ... pots of herbs (many transplanted from the gardens of the bride's parents and the groom's parents along with rosemary acquired from family friend Frank Zitnik) decorated the tables. Many friends and family members contributed hydrangeas, pearly everlasting, Japanese lanterns, thistle, and more - artfully arranged in antique containers by the bride's mother. Bountiful bouquets of zinnias added pops of color.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Bird Egg Beans Revisited

Harvest 2017: Bird Egg Beans
We've posted about these beautiful beans before. As a matter of fact, that post has logged the highest number of views in the history of this blog!
We've not had much success in growing these heirloom beans in the past couple of years and thought better of using our stored seed for fear of perpetuating disease. So last year, for the first time in many, many years, no bird egg beans were growing on Crandall Hill.
We decided to try again this year and went to gardener extraordinaire Jack Lent to source seed. Jack's wife, Arthur's cousin Nancy Snyder Lent, shares the Gooch family's love of these old-fashioned beans. One cold spring day, Jack came to the door bearing a small jar of bean seed.
This represents our entire harvest of bird egg beans this year – borne on healthy vines and plump, colorful pods filled with fat, colorful beans.
We're saving all these beans for seed for 2018, hopeful that we can continue this piece of family heritage.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Tasty Tomato Tart

I admit it. I have been known to watch cooking shows on television. I've been hooked since Julia Child walked me through the fine points of French cooking on The French Chef. These days I enjoy The Great British Baking Show, America's Test Kitchen, the Barefoot Contessa and of course, Top Chef.
It was Top Chef that first introduced me to Food and Wine magazine, for one of the prizes for the winner each year is a "spread in Food and Wine."

This colorful cover on the August issue sent me to the garden to harvest a colorful variety of heirloom tomatoes to create my own version of this fabulous Tomato Tart. How can one resist these words that accompanied the recipe.
"Taste the Rainbow. You've waited all year for them. Now that ripe tomatoes are here, instead of the usual salad, try piling them on this insanely good (and super easy) tart. We're in love!"

It was so good I made it again to serve
friends who came for dinner the next evening.
If you'd like to try this recipe, comment below and I will post the recipe for you. Though tomato season has been slowed by the cooler than normal weather, we should be able to help you source many of the pictured varieties!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

A Grand Duchess

The Duchess of Oldenburg
significant because it's the first fruit of our tree grafting efforts
Development of our apple orchards includes a grafting program. For the past few springs, Arthur has set up shop in "the shop", surrounded by buckets of grafting sticks and root stocks. The rusty one-burner propane stove (used to heat water for morning coffee on long-ago camping trips) sits on the workbench to warm up the grafting wax concoction he uses.
One major goal of his grafting program is to identify and save trees that populate the back yards and fields of our neighbors.  These old trees have been bearing fruit that has been finding its way into pantries and pie crusts for generations.
Some of these trees are varieties that are not identified by names, such as the one we've tagged as "Snyder Milk House Apple." This early apple grows on a gnarly tree in the pasture of Paul and Cathy Snyder down the Dingman Run Road from us. Paul's father, Steven, referred to it as "common fruit" and the family has used it for applesauce for generations.
Our fledgling nursery has grafts for the Snyder Milk House Apple as well as the Tucker apple from Colesburg, Kenyon's Sweet Apple and Strawberry Apples from the Kidney farm and many more.
In the picture above, Arthur holds the first fruit of a tree he grafted three years ago. It's an old variety called Duchess of Oldenburg. The scion for the graft came from the Sunset Valley Farm of John and Karlene Peet.
The Oldenburg “kept up the hope of prairie orchardists in times of great discouragement,” according to The Apples of New York, Volume II, by S. A. Beach (J. B. Lyon Co., 1905).
And so today, the Oldenburg is keeping up the hopes of the Metzgers on our heritage farm on Crandall Hill, Potter County, Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Here Comes The Sun .... Flower!

 Here's proof that our new hive of bees has settled in. There's a row of sunflowers bordering the Mama Wanda garden and the early morning light was so very beautiful this day that I grabbed the camera. I explained to our bees that I was there only to snap a few pictures and they continued on their quest, visiting the flowers, gathering nectar and acting as pollinators.

Golden Glow
Planted by family members in years past
Neighbor & cousin John Peet calls this "back house daisies"
because the vigorous habit provides a screen around outhouses!
also known as horsemint, wild bergamot, Oswego tea

Reminiscent of the old song sung by Peter, Paul and Mary.
"Every flower's reachin' for the sun
Every petal opens when the day has just begun"
(written by Noel Paul Stookey, Bob Milstein, Peter Yarrow

Monday, July 17, 2017

German Johnson

I almost hesitated to post a picture of this giant tomato because it definitely will not find its way to the Farmers' Market.
This fine specimen is a German Johnson. It has pinkish skin and dimples! Also known as German Johnson Pink, this heirloom is said to have come with immigrants to Virginia and North Carolina. Aren't heirloom tomatoes intriguing!
Heirloom tomatoes were once simply tomatoes. Those tomatoes are the ones folks grew in their home gardens, perhaps saving seeds year to year. Or tomatoes were grown on local farms, finding their way to your dinner table only in late summer. These tomatoes, with their soft skins that bruise easily, don't ship well.
These days, tomatoes are bred for mechanical harvest, bred to withstand shipping and bred for a long shelf life. That's why you can find tomatoes in the supermarket year round. Of course, you sacrifice taste and texture.
So what determines an heirloom variety? It's generally accepted that "commercial" heirlooms are varieties at least 50 years old. There are also family heirlooms, heirlooms created by crossing open pollinated tomatoes, and mystery heirlooms, a produtc of natural cross pollination.
We're growing many heirloom varieties, along with some carefully selected hybrids and they will find their way to market soon.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Buzzing Of Bees

Every orchard needs bees. That's a fact that did not escape our Emporium friend Bob Stampee who showed up at our orchard gate a couple of years ago with a hive of honey bees.
Bob has been supporting our foray into beekeeping ever since, encouraging membership in the Beekeepers' Association, providing equipment, resources and his vast store of expertise.
The original beehive made it through the worst of the winter this year and on the unseasonably warm February days, bees were coming out to warm themselves in the sunshine. Fast forward to the fickle mont of March when a ferocious windstorm in March dislodged the top of their hive, something that wasn't noticed until some time had passed and alas, we lost the bees.
Upon hearing that sad news, Bob set out to find us more bees and last week, he showed up with this in the back of his van.

With Arthur and Laura's assistance, the bees were unloaded and established in their new home. We are looking forward to a long and happy relationship.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Winner Is ...

Silvery Fir Tree Tomato
finishing in second place

The first tomato of the season was harvested Saturday, July 1 and, neatly sliced, found its place on a BLT featuring home-baked whole wheat bread, bacon from the pig we purchased from neighbors at Thompson Farms, and home-grown lettuce. That superlative sandwich greeted me when I returned from a glorious vacation week at the Chautauqua Institution.
And for those of you who wonder which tomato won the coveted "first tomato of the season" honor .... the winner is .... Stupice! At least, that what the little stick planted next to the tomato told me. However, I'm thinking that perhaps there was a little mixup while planting seeds for the teletale question mark on the aforementioned stick was buried in the soil.  That big Silvery Fir Tree tomato that I was counting on was the second tomato of the year, harvested July 3.
Coming soon ... Gold Nugget cherry tomatoes.

Fuzzy look courtesy of early-morning
dewiness in the high tunnel

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Meanwhile In The High Tunnel

just a few of the tomato varieties grown in our high tunnel
in past years. Recognize any of them?
I estimate that our 2017 high tunnel tomato crop will be beginning to ripen within the next 7-10 days. It's always fun to see which 25+ varieties we grow will begin to take on that reddish cast first. I'm placing my bet on Silvery Fir Tree but Gold Nugget is closing in and the New Girl plants are heavy with fruit.

A past tomato harvest
 ... and what do you think of my latest hair ornament?

after a morning in the tomato patch ...

Thursday, May 25, 2017

First Farmers' Market Of Season

Laura and Rytz harvesting greens from the high tunnel
We're excited to have new energy and enthusiasm on this old farm in 2017. We hope you'll join us at the Potter County Farmers' Market tomorrow (Friday, May 26) to meet Rytz and Laura and have a first look at the certified organic vegetables they've been growing and tending these past months.
This week features a variety of salad greens including mixed lettuces, leafy red and green head lettuce, chard, turnips, radishes and more.
Stop by the market - located on the corner of N. East and E. Second Streets in downtown Coudersport. It's just past the construction zone so we have our fingers crossed that folks won't be dismayed by the new traffic patterns.
We're now accepting debit and credit cards for your purchases as well as cash and checks.

Tomatoes, Peppers And More

Potter County Farmers' Market opens tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. and we'll be bringing our USDA Certified Organic plant starts. Today is your last opportunity to assure that we can provide you the tomato and pepper varieties you're looking for. Alas, some varieties have already sold out.
Please send an email to or call 814-274-8004 and leave a message if we don't answer. We can bring your reserved plants tomorrow or we can make arrangements for pick up at the farm.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Big Deal For A Small Farm

We stopped briefly this morning at a nearby hardware store and stepping out of the car, the breeze brought me the unmistakeable distinctive odor of herbicide. Sure enough, just around the corner of the building a makeshift greenhouse had been set up, the ends open to the passing winds.

I couldn't help but think about my trip to my own greenhouse this morning, of how I had noted the familiar and comforting aroma of damp soil and growing things. Such a contrast to the smell that characterizes herbicide and pesticide.

It's not an easy task for a small farm such as ours to achieve certification through the USDA. But it's your assurance that we are accountable to the standards set for organic production. We're proud to be certified by Pennsylvania Certified Organic for the third year after a five-year transition period. Yes, it's a big deal!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Mixed Greens Ready Now!

Choose from mixed greens, spicy mix or mesclun mix
Where else can you customize your salad greens?  Rytz and Laura have carefully tended several beds of salad fixings in the high tunnel since mid-March and they're ready now! They have mixed greens, spicy mix and mesclun mix and can pick and customize your bag just for you!
By buying USDA certified organic salad greens, you have the assurance that your greens were grown without herbicide, chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Plus, when you open the bag, your nose won't detect that "off" odor that tells you that the greens have been treated to preserve their freshness. No need for that when you buy local!
Prices are $3 for a small (4 oz.) bag and $6 for a big (8 oz.) bag. Please call 814-274-8004 and leave a message if we don't answer. We'll return your call.  (Another way to order is via email at You can pick up your order here at the farm or local delivery can be arranged.
We can't wait to share this goodness with you.
Coming soon .... radishes, kale and arugula.
And don't forget the certified organic tomato and pepper plants.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Armed Conflict

Here's the conflict: Our early plantings in the high tunnel are being assaulted by these tiny creatures. 

Do you recognize them? I would bet that you've encountered ubiquitous pill bugs (also known as rolly-pollies, sow bugs, doodle bugs, wood lice) in your backyard.
Our raised beds have turned into combat zones! Under the cover of darkness, these voracious armies swarm the tender little seedlings and attack! They've enjoyed a cozy life in the protected environs of the high tunnel, hiding under the wood and in all the organic material. If they had just stuck to the decaying wood and the dark dampness under the ground cover, we could have co-existed.
But now, it's war!
What's in our organic arsenal?
The first line of defense was diatomaecus earth. Not too effective but it did slow them down somewhat.
Golden chard with food-grade
diatomaceous earth sprinkles

Yesterday afternoon we hollowed out reject potatoes and put them face-down in the earth around the plants.

See the potato trap in the upper right?
This morning we plucked the potatoes from the soil and sent the pill bugs to a watery grave! We'll see if these deterrants will allow all the seedlings a fighting start.
How do you combat pill bugs in your organic garden?

Even the tomatoes are fair game!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Let's Get Growing!

Haven't we had a lovely taste of early spring the past couple of days? Here on the farm, it's given us lots of opportunities to get growing.

Garlic - planted last fall, growing this spring!

Tomato plants - is one destined for your garden?

These beautiful broccoli plants have now transitioned
to permanent homes in the garden
Lettuce planned for the opening of
Potter County Farmers' Market
Things are a-changing here on Crandall Hill this spring. We're happy to announce that we have entered into a "Share-Farming" agreement with Rytz Bowman and Laura Mangan, who bring lots of enthusiasm and excitement to their new venture here on Metzger Heritage Farm.
Share farming or "crop share" is a flexible, collaborative approach to farming. Sometimes known as tenant farming, crop share is an agreement where the landowner and farmer work together to grow and harvest the crops.
They have already jumped in with both feet to plant and tend a big selection of vegetables to share with you. Many kinds of kale, summer turnips, radishes, Swiss chard, arugula, lettuce, spicy mesclun and more share some of the beds where the first tomatoes have been transplanted in the high tunnel.
We're looking at our production with a fresh set of eyes and new energy! Laura and Rytz have lots of great new ideas and even plans to put together a modified CSA arrangement to bring you a weekly share of certified organic produce. Watch for details.
And to celebrate the new arrangement, have a look at our new logo (Is my pre-farming life as a graphic designer showing?)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Always Warm In The Greenhouse!

I was awake early enough this morning to see the silvery moonlight brightening the skylights while in the east, the horizon took on muted hues of gold.. Today's predicted sunshine will melt the last vestiges of Friday's snow that linger in shaded spots under pine trees and against outbuildings.
The outdoor thermometer read 26 degrees but it's always warm in the greenhouse, thanks to the supplemental gas heat that lends it glow as I make my early morning visit. Once I turn on the lights, here's what I find.

I am quite pleased with the progress of the tomato plants and pepper plants I am growing for sale this spring.
I have selected many tomato varieties that promise to do well in our northern climate. Click here for descriptions.
55-60 Days
Gold Nugget Cherry
Sophie's Choice
60-65 Days
Silvery Fir Tree
Oregon Spring
New Girl
Organic 506
65-70 Days
Mountain Princess
Northern Ruby (Paste)
Roma (Paste)
75 - 85 Days
Amish Paste

Peppers are a bit of a challenge for home gardeners. I've located some new-to-me varieties to try this year with promised early harvest.
Sweet Peppers
King of the North
California Wonder
Charleston Belle
Carolina Wonder
I will also have extras of the varieties I plant in the high tunnel including Carmen (an Italian red pepper) and Chocolate (dark brown and gnarly).
Hot Peppers
Early Jalapeno
Ring Of Fire
Hungarian Wax
Click here for complete descriptions.

To ensure the best selection, it is best to pre-order your plants so I can put them aside before I offer plants to the public. They'll continue to have their tender, loving care until you're ready to plant them in your garden.
Please call 814-274-8004 or email for details.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

USDA Certified Organic Pepper Plants

Here is a listing of the USDA Certified Organic pepper plants we're offering for sale this year.
Call 814-274-8004 or email for information.

Now Available In Potter County!

All of the certified organic plants we’re offering for sale are grown the same way we grow seedlings  for our certified organic farm.

Years ago when we were just beginning our transition to organic, we set out to find organic plants. We thought it would be easy but discovered that there were no local sources. That first year we went all the way to Ithaca, N.Y. to buy plants that were “grown organically” but were not USDA certified organic.
Later we made the acquaintance of Bridget and Dennis Reynolds of Quest Farm in Almond, N.Y. , a USDA certified organic farm, and purchased our plant starts from them for several years. At the same time, we began to work on a system to begin to grow our own organic seedlings.

Beginning in March, the carefully selected USDA certified organic seeds are sown in seeding trays with Organic Mechanics seed starting mix. The seedlings are transitioned to their individual pots after the grow true leaves. We’ve chosen OMRI listed peat pots for this step and the soil is Vermont Compost Company’s Fort Vee.
The plants are tended daily and spend time in the sunshine behind the glass of our heated greenhouse as well as under grow lights.
Let us grow for you! Call 814-274-8004 or email us at for details.