Winter is a season of rest and reflection on the farm, where the shorter and darker days are meant to help us look inward towards ourselves and the inner workings of the farm. And we have been doing that here, adjusting grazing plans and garden plans, adding beneficial components to the farm like a small nursery to propagate plants we need, and cutting out parts of our work that weren't serving us or the farm mission. But after two months of cold, wet mud and dreary days (where has the winter gone?) sometimes you need some inspiration and sunlight to come back into your days and move past reflection. Right on cue, every year in early February, the PASA conference provides the spark that is needed when the winter blues start to take hold and we are ever so grateful for it.
PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) is a pivotal organization in the state for providing education, policy, resources, and networking for the sustainable and regenerative farming and food system movement. They have been the most important organization personally for my continuing education in farming. It's also the best place to find mentors, friends, and resources. This particular conference most of the members of the farm were able to go and learn about useful topics such as grazing to support native plants, soil fungal networks and their benefit in agriculture, fruit tree pruning and organic care, marketing and telling your farm's story, and just hear inspiring stories. Also, we met so many wonderful people and got to catch up with people we haven't seen since the last conference. It is communities like the PASA network that drives this work forward.
And it's not just for farmers, but for any individuals interested in or working towards a better food system. Whether it is how racial and wealth inequalities affect food distribution and health, how to increase community gardens and deepen people's connection with land, or how to run a small diversified farm, PASA is working towards connecting the dots and inspiring people to get their hands dirty towards more earth care, people care, and fair share. We are inspired once again by the people and possibilities we saw and are looking to take that inspiration into our work this year on the farm. Oh, and spring is right around the corner!
One of our favorite pork recipes is from Melissa Joulwan's Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat (We're not paleo, but we love to eat!) Her subtitle to the recipe is "Could supersede bacon as your favorite use of pig" - we might agree! The beauty of this recipe is that you spend a little time getting it into the pot (5 quart cast iron dutch oven works great), and then it takes care of itself until the last 15 minutes or so. It is juicy and full of flavor, and tastes great by itself, or shredded and put in a taco or tortilla.
It's that time of year again. Do you have a small woodlot that needs thinned? A tree that needs to come down on your property? We're looking for logs to use in mushroom production. If you didn't know by now, we operate a small outdoor mushroom operation in a forested riparian lot here on the farm. These mushrooms grow in a natural environment on wood, instead of in grow houses like most mushrooms you'll find in stores. In order to keep the operation going we need to inoculate fresh logs each year to replace the spent ones.
For shiitake we're looking for oak, sugar/red/silver maple, beech, ironwood, sweetgum, and black birch. Trees need to be freshly cut and free of disease and rot. We need wood that is 4-8" in diameter cut to 3 ft lengths to make mushroom logs. For oyster mushrooms we can use box elder, willow, cottonwood, hackberry, mulberry, and tulip poplar 8-12" diameter. Call 717-967-4012
If we can collect over 150 logs we will be holding another shiitake log inoculation and cultivation workshop sometime this spring! Keep your eyes and ears open!
"If you have a good diet, of what use is a doctor? And, if you don't have a good diet, of what use is a doctor?
-saying from Ayurveda, an ancient tradition of medical practice from India
Wow, that's a strong statement! But what if we took it seriously? Could we make the leap to see our food as our medicine? I know this is something that I struggle with, even though I have been considering it for quite some time. So many of our food choices are the result of the traditions we were brought up in, the choices we were offered as children, and the incessant marketing for food products we are exposed to on a daily basis. So many choices, and so many temptations, full of sugar, refined flour, and unhealthy fat!
I just spent four days away at a retreat center where I was offered only whole, unprocessed food, homemade food. It was so easy to make good choices in this environment, where there were no potato chips, chocolate, and ice cream. Most of us can't give up these things completely, but one useful piece of advice I received was to follow the 70-30 rule. Eat well 70% of the time, and indulge in what you need to satifsy your food yearnings 30% of the time. (Or 80-20, if you are feeling more ambitious.) So, try to eat local, organic, unprocessed food for the bulk of your food, and happily enjoy your bag of cheetos now and then, if that's what makes you happy. (Dieffenbach's potato chips are my guilty pleasure.) Here on the farm we are doing our best to raise the most healthy food possible, working to build up our soil so that everything we produce - meat, eggs, mushrooms, fruit, vegetables - will be as nutrient dense as possible. Healthy soil leads to healthy plants, which leads to healthy animals and healthy people. If the kinds of food we eat are the building blocks of our body, mind and soul...what are you building?
For us, medicine and nutrition begin in the garden. We try to eat as much as possible from the vegetables and storage crops we grow right here. As we increase the fertility and health of our soil, the nutrition of our vegetables will grow and our health along with it.
What we're cookin' here on the farm...
This is a great time of year to fill your freezer with bone broth. Making broth in the winter makes the house smell great, and heats up the kitchen on these frigid days! Bone broth is so nutritious, and can form the basis for so many soups and stews, and is healthful to just drink when winter weather or illness depletes us. It is important also to honor the animals by using all of the parts they provide, and the bones are especially valuable in the nutrients they give. We especially like Shannon Hayes' recipe for Meat broth, and she gives a very thorough description of how to make it, and the many health benefitshere. But we often don't have time to follow her beautiful recipe, so we just use our crockpot to make broth with leftover bones from whatever we ate that day. Adding some vinegar to the bones and water is a good idea to help release the nutrients. We let chicken bones cook for 12 to 24 hours, and beef, pork or lamb bones cook for 24 to 48 hours. Then just strain and freeze, with the fat, or skimming the fat off after it cools, to use separately.
We have beef, pork and lamb bones for sale in our farm store, if you would like to try this!
SPRING CSA IS HERE!
Its time for the Spring CSA (I know, its still pretty cold out there)! We have beef, pork, and lamb meat shares starting in mid February as well as egg shares starting in early March. The CSA will run through May (4 monthly pickups for meat and biweekly pickups for eggs). For all of the information check out the CSA page on our website. Email or call us with orders or any questions you might have, thanks!
BEEF SHARE - 5lbs per pickup - $195 GROUND BEEF SHARE - 3 lbs per pickup - $85 BEEF BONE - 6 lbs total - $20 BEEF FAT - 5 lbs total - $10
LARGE PORK - 6 lbs per pickup - $195 SMALL PORK - 4 lbs per pickup - $140 SAUSAGE - 2 lbs per pickup - $60 PORK BONE - 5 lbs total - $15 PORK FAT - 6 lbs totatl - $12 PORK ODDS AND ENDS - 6 lbs total - $20
LARGE LAMB - 5 lbs per pickup - $215 SMALL LAMB - 3 lbs per pickup - $140 MUTTON - 4 lbs per pickup - $150 BONES - 5 lbs total - $20 ORGANS - 4 lbs total - $20
LARGE EGG - $60 (2 dz per biweekly pickup - 12 dz total) SMALL EGG - $30 (1 dz per biweekly pickup - 6 dz total)
CSA PICKUP DATES (Tuesdays 5 - 6:30)
MEAT - Feb. 11 - Mar 10 - Apr 7 - May 5
EGGS - Mar 10 - Mar 24 - Apr 7 - Apr 21 - May 5 - May 19
We don't have any upcoming events in the near future but we are busy planning our year with open farm days, workshops, tree planting parties, along with all of the farm work and plans. There will be plenty to get involved in this coming year so stay tuned.
Also, we will be at the PASA Conference Feb. 5-8 learning, networking, and even helping to teach one class on Ecological Design for Small Farms with Ben Weiss (Susquehanna Sustainable Enterprises) and Robyn Mello (Edenspore). It's a great place to learn about food systems, regenerative farming, and more. And, it's in Lancaster! For more info check out pasafarming.org.