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.

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."