Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Old Ways Help The New Ways Come

There are moments of my early years on Metzger Heritage Farm that are crystal clear in memory. There was the time everyone pitched in to dig deep trenches out by the rhubarb to plant asparagus. Being new to the family and anxious to please Arthur Metzger Sr. who supervised from his seat on the Wheelhorse tractor, I was so very conscious of placing those long straggly white roots just right. 

Arthur Sr. was behind many additions to the farm in the 1970s including the Garden Way cider press which he put together in the shop.

Apples were gathered from the ancient Northern Spy trees and what we now call the 1950s orchard with its Golden and Red Delicious dwarf apple trees. We all took our turns turning the crank to grind the apples. Such glorious sweetness poured from the little hole on the bottom of the tray into the waiting graniteware kettle on the grass!

Though he wasn't given the gift to watch his grandchildren turning that crank, we've dragged the old Garden Way cider press out of the shop nearly every fall, sometimes hosting a cider pressing party for friends, always pressing a couple of gallons for family and once pressing cider with a slew of kids and their families from the Austin School. That year cider sales helped finance the annual legendary trip to Pittsburgh for Mr. Metzger and his students. 

Joey & Kate Metzger with "Auntie Snip"

Joey keeping close watch on the process

Aucotts: Mike, Louise and Gabe
Arthur & Anne Acker(?) on the left

Zach Pucci, Paul Heimel, Joey Metzger, Blair Heimel, Maggie Acker

Steve Heimel, Paul Heimel with Paul J. on his shoulders,
Kate Metzger, Chris Heimel, Joey Metzger & Arthur Metzger

Zach Pucci on his way to the cider press

Paul Heimel, Kate Metzger & Zach Pucci

Sabrina & Rachel Newton (Jorge in back)

These days, our cider production is a small commercial operation and the apples head a bit north to Canisteo, N.Y. to be pressed in a gigantic press to yield their juices.

But the old Garden Way press waits in the shop for the time when the next generation of family and friends will turn the crank and savor that first taste!

Friday, October 16, 2020

How Do You Like Them Apples?


Have you visited our farm stand on Crandall Hill? We came up with the plan to use our garage in what we all call "the horse barn" as a way to offer our USDA Certified Organic apples (and cider when we have it) for sale right here on the farm.

Apples are conveniently bagged so you can grab and go. We offer selections of apple varieties you may recognize and many more you might want to add to your list of favorites. We also accept the FMNP and WIC checks and have $6 bags available. 

King of Tompkins County is a large, smooth-skinned yellow apple with orange-red blush.  It's coarse, crisp, aromatic and tender. Many people bite into one and immediately say it tastes exactly as they remember a great apple tasting when they were a child.

Pixie Crunch is a dessert apple, extremely crisp and juicy. It's described as rich, spicy and full flavored. I describe them as delicious!

Where else can you find apples with names such as Freedom ... Enterprise .. Liberty ... Wolf River ...Florina Querina ... Crimson Topaz ... Crimson Gold ...  Scarlett O'Hara ... Red Free ... Sundance.

In addition to our bagged apples, we can also put together boxes of what we call "seconds" perfect for applesauce, apple butter, and pies. Cost is $20. Preorder and we'll have them ready for you. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Our "Well-Crafted" Cider Ready Today

I read this on an apple-related site today and wished I'd chosen these words to describe our apple cider.

"Well-crafted cider begins with great apples, fruit that is full of personality and a sense of place, from orchards grown with care."

Well, folks, it may sound like hyperbole to you but it strikes a pleasant chord with me as I try to entice you to try some of our well-crafted cider made from more than 14 varieties of our USDA Certified Organic Apples.

What's the difference between apple cider and apple juice? Cider is unfiltered and contains some pulp or sediment which gives it its familiar cloudy look. Because our cider has no preservatives, its shelf life (refrigerated) is 7-10 days. After that, fermentation begins on the way to becoming a 'hard' cider.

You will find our freshly-made raw apple cider is refreshing and rich in many of the same nutrients as raw apples.

As I write this on Tuesday afternoon, those who pre-ordered their cider may pick it up anytime the farm stand is open (daily 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.). Some will find their orders in the refrigerator in the farm stand while others will need to come to the door so we can fetch your cider from the big cooler.

If you missed out on ordering this time, stop by the Farm Stand and grab yours from the refrigerator... but I suggest you come soon before someone else snaps it up.

We will continue harvesting and storing apples as they continue development of their distinct personalities and plan at least one more cider pressing this season. Feel free to email me ( with your order and I'll let you know when to expect delivery.

Cost this year is $8 for a gallon of well-crafted goodness; $4.75 for a half gallon. Buy 5 gallons for $35. That's a popular bargain for those crafting their own hard cider.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Apple Cider Time


The first pressing of apple cider from our USDA Certified Organic Apples will be available beginning Tuesday, September 29. We mix many varieties of apples and take them for processing and bottling at a facility in New York state. While there are no preservatives added, the cider is treated with UV light before bottling in gallon and half-gallon containers. 

Many have commented that our cider is the best they have ever tasted and we, of course, agree.

Because there are no preservatives added, we have found it best to have the cider processed based on the number of orders \so we ask that you order your cider in advance so you won't be disappointed. Please email us at If you have questions, please call us at (814) 274-8004. 

Cost is $8 per gallon, 5 gallons for $35. Half gallon price is $4.75.

We expect to be making several trips to the processing plant this season and will announce the dates.

The farm stand is open Monday-Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sunday hours are 12:00 - 6:00 p.m. We just put out bags of Honey Crisp apples.

Friday, September 11, 2020

New Apple Varieties Ready


Arthur has been busy picking apples and getting them bagged and ready for sale. Check out Initial and Pixie Crunch for satisfying and delicious apple snacks.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Safe For All

This sign greeted me when I opened the door to prepare our farm stand for customers this morning. It's a companion to these created by Arthur, designed to entice customers to choose organic fruits - from our farm, of course!

Just to refresh your memory, I give you some reasons to choose organic for your apples.

1. Organic Apples Taste Better. Once you've tried many of the varieties of organic apples, you will be able to taste the difference - some have said the flavor explodes in your mouth. Commercially grown apples tend to taste watery and bland. Pesticides used to grow conventional apples make the fruit retain water, and you get an apple swollen with water instead of taste.

2. Pesticides Are Toxic To Farm Workers & Consumers. Remember, the sole purpose of any pesticide is to kill living organisms. Conventional produce has absorbed the pesticides and chemicals that were used to grow it. Synthetic herbicides, pesticides and insecticides have been in widespread use in commercial farming since the 1940s. Our apples are grown without these harmful substances. Some think they can get rid of pesticide residue by peeling apples, not taking into consideration that the apple has been sprayed multiple times during its growing cycle.

3. Support Local Farms and Farmers. Every time you make the choice to buy organic from a local farmer, you are supporting a small farm, allowing them to profit while maintaining their organic principles and sustainable farming practices. When you make the decision about the product you are buying, you are "voting" with your money to ensure the small organic producers can continue to bring you their wholesome - and better - produce.

These are the apple varieties we currently feature at our farm stand.

Pristine – An early apple that is sweet enough for out of hand enjoyment.

Duchess of Oldenburg – Early-season apple, originating from Russia in the early 18th century.  It is primarily used as a cooking apple.

Yellow Transparent – Named for the pale-yellow skin of the fruit that matches the flesh. Crisp, light and sweet – makes the ultimate home-cooked applesauce.

Mollie’s Delicious – A crisp and juicy apple with sweet-tart taste. Unrelated to other Delicious varieties.

Williams’ Pride - Early-season all-purpose apple is especially good for fresh eating.

Sansa – Sweet and juicy with a little tang. Good for fresh eating or for making apple sauce.

Red Free – Great multi-purpose apple that works in baking, salads, and for fresh eating.  

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Another Reason To Choose Organic: New Study

I was interested to read this morning of a peer-reviewed study published in the journal Environmental Research reporting levels of the pesticide glyphosate in participants’ bodies dropped an average of 70% after six days on an organic diet.

You can read the report here but it certainly shines some more light on health advantages in choosing organic.

High profile court cases in 2019 linked plaintiffs' Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma to use of Roundup® and an appeals court has upheld that decision. Research links glyphosate (Roundup®) to many health problems - including Parkinson's Disease, kidney disease, endocrine disruption, DNA damage, decreased sperm function, disruption of the gut microbiome (think about all the folks who complain of gluten intolerance) as well as cancer. 

Meanwhile, here on Crandall Hill, we're proud to offer you USDA Certified Organic apples - perfect for eating, cooking and preserving. The harvest is just beginning but the trees are heavy with fruit. Varieties available now include Zestar!®, Yellow Transparent, Pristine and Duchess of Oldenburg (an antique apple). Our new farm stand is open daily for self-service. You can also call (814) 274-8004 to pre-order your selections.

We also accept the FMNP checks and can make up special $6 bags of apples for you.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Farmstand Opening Wednesday!

We've been busily working at creating a space in our barn for an easy-access farm stand where we will be able to offer our USDA Certified Organic apples for sale directly from the farm. We will also, from time to time, have other USDA Certified organic produce available.

As I write this on Monday, our plan is to be ready to go Wednesday (August 19) morning. Signs will direct you where to pull into the driveway to access the stand. Right now, we have Yellow Transparent, Duchess of Oldenburg and Pristine apples but many more varieties will be offered as the season progresses.

More good news! We've checked in with the cider processor we have used the past two years and they will be open for business beginning in mid-September and we have made arrangements for having our cider processed there again this year. Watch for details.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

One Misty, Moisty Morning*

It's one of those murky late summer mornings when the air, though cool, is thick. Last evening's rain was welcomed by the growing ones in the gardens and fields and by the two who sat watching from the back porch.  

Fog this morning gave way to drizzle, providing the perfect opportunity to weed and thin recent outdoor plantings of late beets and carrots.
How long until we harvest sweet corn?

We had time to finish yet another produce-heavy dinner on the porch before the rains came. A tip of the hat to sister-in-law Johanna Eurich who sent this recipe from Alaska.

Pasta With Tomato, Almonds and Anchovies

Combine 1/2 cup roasted almonds, 6 anchovies (I used anchovy paste from a tube, a squeeze of about 5 inches), and 3 cloves of garlic (I used about 6 because we love garlic) in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Cook an appropriate amount of pasta for your own needs. (I used whole wheat linguine.) Drain well , then toss in a large bowl with the almond mixture, a bunch of chopped ripe tomatoes (I used about 5 large heirloom tomatoes and peeled them first), 1 cup grated Parmesan, about 3 Tb. olive oil and a handful of chopped basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Serves 2 generously with leftover sauce)

Of course, I made one addition. I have lots of zucchini these days and shredded two and sautéed them in a bit of olive oil until they released their moisture and added that when I tossed it all together.

*From Mother Goose

One misty, moisty morning,
When cloudy was the weather,
I chanced to meet an old man clothed all in leather.
He began to compliment, and I began to grin,
How do you do, and how do you do?
And how do you do again?

Thursday, July 30, 2020

On The Other Side

I've been resistant, but today I acknowledge the gardens are on the other side of summer ... you know the side of summer where the leaves are yellowing, the bug damage is more noticeable, the weeds continue to triumph and even the second and third of the succession plantings are winding down. It's also the time when garden chores can easily fill the day, leaving me wondering where the time went.

But, this movement to late summer is not all bad for it's the time for harvest and the time for preservation.

The first batch of homegrown heirloom tomato sauce ready for the oven yesterday

Great success with pickling cucumbers this year.
Early Russian Picklers and Little Fingers (in case you wondered)

Planted lots of sunflowers to enjoy from the kitchen windows.
Orchard in the distance

These hollyhocks are remnants of ones planted by Thelma Metzger.
They surprise me every year!
Next year, we'll have a new strain courtesy of Cindy Alackness who dropped off seeds from hers last year. Hollyhocks are biennials meaning the plant requires two years to complete its life cycle.
During the first year, they grow roots and a rosette of of leaves. The second year they bloom. 

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Summer Heat

I'm watching the radar as yet another storm front races toward us from the west this afternoon. My last post back in April (gulp!) lamented the late spring and the cold weather. Not much changed until mid-June, when after a frosty morning on June 14, it's been hot and dry, punctuated by gusty thunderstorm.

Let these pictures taken today bring you up to date on Metzger Heritage Farm.

Garlic on the left, potatoes and Oregon Giant snow peas
Garlic is later this year because we didn't get it planted
until spring but the crop looks promising.

This jungle is just inside the high tunnel.
You're looking at soybeans (a new variety I'm trying for edamame)
and cannellini beans. In the background onions and shallots.
I've been anxious to get something to grow around the sluice
pipe besides weeds. So this year, in addition to the weeds, I am enjoying
sunflowers, calendula and dill as I stand in the kitchen looking
out at the orchard and sweet corn. Final planting of beets and
carrots went in the ground today, just below the sweet corn.

The amazing Fortex pole beans.
Stringless and very tasty.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Establishing An Orchard

from 2019 
It was an April day in 2012 that a fine group of helpers converged on Crandall Hill to assist in planting what we've come to call our new orchard.

all the way from Arizona to lend a hand

That fellow you see above is my brother Chris who was recently wondering about the orchard he helped establish on that spring day in Potter County. He's going to have to wait a couple more weeks for an updated picture for I want him to fully appreciate the beauty of the orchard in bloom.

Here are a few photos of the blooms from 2019 to whet his appetite.

And in case you want to refresh your memory, there are links to the orchard planting posts here and here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Farming In Pandemic Times

It's recommended one wears a face mask when working with potting mixtures and I have had a box of masks stashed away in the greenhouse for that purpose. These days, those masks have taken on a whole new meaning as we all do our part to stop the spread of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
A vast majority of Americans who have been exposed to the virus don't know it. People and organizations can fight the spread of coronavirus by taking steps to prevent transmission of the disease. Remember that the whole point of widespread cancellation of events is to create social distancing that can lower the infection rate and prevent health care systems from being overwhelmed.
Your mask is one more tool to protect others from the potential transmission of the virus you may be carrying with our even knowing it.

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.