Author: Farmer Sky (page 1 of 6)

The Climes they are a changingÂ…

The Climes they are a changingÂ…

01/07

Today is sunny and rather warm, although its not unseasonably warm. The last few nights have been cold and I have gone out in the mornings to take care of the laying hens and found their water frozen solid. The hens rush from their coops with doubled excitement on these cold mornings. Most run to the feeders, a few lay out to soak in the warming rays of the sun.
These cold days and nights have been few this season. Just before this cold snap the fields were filled with minute flowers- winter cress, arugula, radish, trees are budding out and some are flowering months early. IÂ’ve continued to work in the fields long past when I had planned which has helped to get a lot done which would have otherwise waited until the spring melt- in fact today I will be out there again without a coat.
I might consider this a blessing- lately our region has felt more like Georgia than West Virginia, but these dramatic shifts in weather make me nervous for the seasons to come. Nature is never normal. Change is constant and there are plenty of reasons why the weather forecasters and farmerÂ’s almanac get their predictions wrong so often (the farmerÂ’s almanac predicted this winter to be cold and snowy). ItÂ’s a farmers job to work with the natural world- to reap what we can while be can and sow when the ground is ready. The problem is our job is becoming harder as the variation in weather becomes greater- every aspect of the enterprise is more extreme, whether it be precipitation or temperature, severe storms or insect and disease pressure.
Although this past weeks brief cold snap has knocked our crops out for the season, this winter has been nice honestly, but what concerns me, and most farmers, is not now but the future, a future which is becoming more and more uncertain for farmers and the food we grow, which brings me to the elephant in the room- climate change. 2015 was the hottest year on record. 2014 was the hottest before that. Right now el nino is wreaking havoc from California to the Mississippi River. The north pole was above 40 degrees right around the first of the year! Whatever you believe, climate change is real and humans are making it happen. ItÂ’s a complex problem with no clear solutions, but it is effecting us all and will do so more and more in the days and years to come.
I donÂ’t write as a doomsayer though. I believe there is hope for us and that our actions- yours and mine can make a big difference in slowing or stopping climate change. This is something that I am passionate about and I have spent a huge amount of time researching- so here is what I understand and what you can do about it:

The Facts

Agriculture is the greatest single source of greenhouse gases- This means that what and how we eat will have the greatest impact upon climate change.

Americans waste 1/4 of all food that we buy.

The meat industry is the greatest source of pollution in agriculture.

Beef is the greatest pollution source in the meat industry- because it takes a lot of feed to produce a pound of beef

Conventional tillage used in the production of Grains and legumes (used mostly for animal feed and ethanol) is responsible for massive amounts of CO2 emissions.

What we can do to help stop climate change:

Eat less meat!- Americans eat nearly 4 times the amount of meat that we should. Plus if you spend more on less meat it tastes even better.

when you do eat meat-

Pasture raised meat is healthier for the earth and more nutritious.

Chickens are the most environmentally friendly meat you can buy.

Buy pasture raised beef- If beef is pasture raised and grass fed, you are actually helping to sequester carbon! Eat pasture raised beef, it is good for the planet!

Make do with what you have in the fridge!- Fun and interesting foods are waiting to be invented right inside the door.

Buy less processed foods- Its tastier, more fun, healthier, and much less energy intensive than packaged foods

Buy Local- When you shop at the farmerÂ’s market you are reducing the energy needed to produce your food, reducing packaging, as well as getting fresher and more nutritious veggies.

Buy organic (no synthetic fertilizers, or pesticides)- The less petroleum products used in the making of food the better, plus its better for people and the earth!

More than anything I think we need to have a positive attitude about ourselves, the world, and what we eat to make a difference. Making positive steps in the right direction can make a big difference and help us to live and to eat even better in the new year!

What better way than to shop to save the planet and have fun at the farmerÂ’s market!

See you in the spring!
Farmer Sky
Harmony Farm

Facebookmail

The State of the Farm – Field Notes 10/12/15

Howdy Folks!?
Me? I’m doing fine. There alas has been no sign of Theo the cat, although I have heard he may be over in Falling Water, although I have yet to see his pretty face.

Can you believe that it’s the last week!? Me neither, but time keeps rolling along and us with it. The farm is looking lovely these days, and there is quite a number of vegetables out in the fields even though most of the markets and the CSA are ending. 🙁 We will be selling at the Morgantown Market until the 2nd week of November, and god willing the indoor markets in Morgantown and Bridgeport through the winter. We will have veggies from the field as long as the weather holds up, meat chickens, eggs, honey, microgreens, as well as hopefully salad greens from our new high tunnel!
———-
Pick ups will be at their regularly scheduled times and places unless you are notified otherwise.
——————

This week’s picklist-
Salad Mix or Arugula
Kale or Swiss Chard
Parsley
Radishes or Salad Turnips- the greens on the salad turnips are great cooked.
Carrots- These are a little babyish and sweet as can be.
Zucchini- Just a little bit.
Sweet Peppers
Sweet Potatoes- They are small, but look like they taste great (I haven’t gotten to try them yet), they can be stored for quite a while as you would potatoes.

Enjoy!
Farmer Sky

The State of the Farm

It’s funny when I think about where the farm was last spring- we were transitioning to Ridgeway Farm, which was just a field, partially plowed in the fall, and a dream. The other site was left in disarray after my accident and I wasn’t even sure that I could farm again with only one good hand. Beyond my physical disability, the struggle to recover had left me empty and depressed. Early that spring I got back on the tractor, which had almost killed me, and finished mowing and plowing the field. My father and I began by putting up a small seed starting greenhouse and running water out to the field. That was the beginning. Now, two years after the accident, the farm is running better than ever and the future looks full of possiblility and more secure.
This year has been a challenge, although every year seems to be these days. Its gone from cold to hot overnight, from endless rain to drought the same. There have been challenges with plantings missed for lack of prepared ground (due to all of the rain) workers burning out from the exhausting work, marauding deer eating whatever they pleased, and lots of insect pests. Through all of that the farm has survived, and now when I look out across the fields it looks better than I had imagined it could when I got back on the tractor and began to plow.
This season we have served you the CSA’s 43 members with a variety of veggies that seem too numerous to count, there have been times when the harvests have been overwhelming, when there wasn’t enough hours in the day to pick everything. At other times it seemed as if the crops wouldn’t grow fast enough, or the ground lay fallow in waiting a dry spell long enough to work the soil, or that they suffered from lack of rain, but through it all the earth has provided. We have also sold at 4 local farmers markets, which has allowed us to share our food with more folks and help to make the farm more financially sustainable.
This year we have undertaken countless projects which have improved the farm and expanded our offerings- from more bee hives, to egg layers, to meat birds. In addition we have fenced in the field’s 4 acres and I no longer have a sleepless night worrying about the threat of deer. Recently a 30’x96’ high tunnel has been completed on the site, which will allow us to grow greens through the winter as well as produce more and better summer fruits. In addition we are also completing a 20’x40’ seed starting greenhouse which will allow us to produce better plants and give us better protection from the weather as well as pests. All of this bodes well for a bright future for Harmony Farm.
At the farm recently a former worker stopped by- Eva, who volunteered 2 years ago and worked last season as well. This year she is managing a farm in New York state. Somehow it makes me feel like a proud mother whose child has begun to carry on the Farm’s legacy. This year the farm has had a lot of helping hands- at least fifteen in all, and my hope is that at least one of them will decide to make a go of farming too.
All of this- the farm, the people, the food, would not be possible without you. It is the CSA which sustains us, that gives purpose to our efforts. You have put a lot of faith and trust into us to provide you with high quality, nutritious, and delicious foods that are safe for you and for the environment. I’m reminded of this when I see a child munching on a veggie, or a monarch butterfly taking its first flight and in those moments the mad pace of day to day farm life parts in front of me and I understand that this is why we do what we do.
Next year there will be some changes to the CSA and to the farm, many of which are only now thoughts in the back of my head. As with every year we will strive to make our offerings to you more in sync with your tastes, which offer more variety and abundance, as well as greater quality and nutrition. We are also considering ways that we can share our foods with more folks and to make it more affordable to those who are not so fortunate, as well as to better educate the next generation of farmers, who come to us with hope and a desire to serve not only themselves but our community and to make the world a better place one vegetable at a time.

With all my gratitude,
Farmer Sky

Facebookmail

Nature in the Garden – Field Notes 9/28/15

Howdy Folks!?
Me IÂ’m swell. I awoke this morning to darkness and the sound of falling rain. How lovely. It is much needed.

Field Notes 9/28

At times it is easy to overlook nature in the grand scheme of things at the farm- we work like a machine and grind out parts from a soil based system of production, the pieces of this system are rows of seeds that are planted, cultivated, and harvested to meet a demand, and hopefully meet the financial needs of the farm. Often, I overlook the farm as a place full of nature- what is here, what is there, and what can we harvest when, or what needs to be done to avoid such and such an issue or subdue such and such a pest, but other times I see the farm as a different sort of place- one full of life and magic.
Lately there has been quite a bit of magic around the place, as the sunÂ’s rays tilt to a perfect angle and the land seems truly alive, even in spite of its dryness. We are constantly seeing things living and thriving that we had not seen before, from the newly hatched Monarch Butterflies lilting on the autumnal breeze, to the bluebirds returning to roost upon the fence posts. We find chrysalisÂ’ the color of jade stones with little rings of gold hanging everywhere, even the tomato hornworm, which is a true bane of the tomato grower, looks magical and even more so when its back is laced with the larvae of parasitic wasps which feed on it.
This reminds me that we are not alone as warriors in a wilderness and that farming is essentially a part of a broader system which is not divorced from nature but truly a part of it, one which is sustained by the relationships between ourselves, the plants, the animals, the insects, down to the creatures of the soil, which do the vast majority of work on the farm. What I am, what we are, is not factory workers, but clergy who do the work of the earth and work with the earth to bring forth life. So for me every monarch that flies from our field is a paycheck, every mockingbirds song a smile, every bee that I see on a flower is another reminder that we are on the right path.

IMG_0310_2IMG_1560

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1553

IMG_0292_2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monarch Caterpillar, Monarch Chrysalis (there are hundreds of these around) Garden Spider in the Greenhouse Newly Hatched Monarch

Picklist
Sauce Tomatoes
Butternut Squash
Swiss Chard
Spicy Greens Mix- great for a salad
Radishes- quite mild, the tops are delicious.
Peppers- sweet carmine type
Parsley- I love it with salad, but itÂ’s great on just about anything

Enjoy-
Farmer Sky

Facebookmail

What Does it All Mean? – Field Notes 09/21/15

Howdy Folks!?
Us? we are doing all right. Fall officially begins tomorrow and you can see it already in the woods. The farm has welcomed a new worker, Dustin from Hurricane, into the fold and he has fit in quite nicely. Hopefully yaÂ’ll will get a chance to say hello to him at the CSA pickups. At the farm we are still trucking. The tomatoes seem to be holding out and this week we have had decent harvests. We have harvested the winter squash and the crop is pretty good. The green beans have begun to flower, and the last planting of zucchini and cukes look good. We will be harvesting Sweet Potatoes this week and yaÂ’ll should see them next week or the week after depending on temperatures. The fall greens are coming on and we are all excited by them. With the waning amount of light things begin to grow more slowly, and at the farm we have begun preparations for the next season already. We will be planting cover crops this week and a high tunnel will be installed next week, which will allow us to get a quicker start to next year and grow more weather resistant summer fruits.

Enjoy Farmer Sky

Field Notes

What Does it All Mean?

It can be hard sometimes to realize why small, local, farms are important for America. Grocery stores often provide us with more variety and often at lower prices. We can go there anytime that we want and pay by almost any means there is. Convenience is one of the biggest factors in their popularity and why ever bigger stores seem to be winning out even among the grocery store chains. They are supplied by vast networks of food deliveries, which are highly efficient in shipping vegetables from all parts of our globe to the nearest store. Our forefathers would be amazed by the apparent abundance that they hold, when their own diets were much more seasonally and locally based. This past way of eating was in many ways idyllic, but there were essential problems in our agrarian food system, which makes our modern food system so appealing.
Before WWII and the green revolution that followed (when modern agriculture exploded and the scene of rural America was drastically and permanently altered), many Americans suffered from malnutrition due to a lack of essential nutrients (which were not present in our soils) and calories (which could be limited by farming methods, environmental conditions, or effective storage). Today we have the opposite problem- rich foods- like meats and processed grains are too cheap, and our diet is killing us through cancer, heart disease, and diabetes among other ailments. Now most Americans have no idea what it is like to go to sleep hungry or to worry about where their next meal comes from.

Today Agriculture is the largest single source of carbon emissions producing over 30% of the worldÂ’s total, as well as using 30% of the worldÂ’s energy supplies to do this. It also is the #1 contributor to most every type of pollution including solid waste and water pollution. Worldwide 70% of fresh water is used for growing crops and in the US it is over 80% (with western states closer to 90%). On average our food takes over 1000 miles to get to our plate. Even with this great system to bring our food to our refrigerator one third of all food is wasted in the process. Agriculture is clearly a great force in our lives- probably the greatest- but most of us donÂ’t even think about in the life choices that we make.

What this system of efficiency and convenience has provided is with, the cheap fast food loaded with fat and sugar- with abundant supplies of meat, is part of the problem, but its deep and systemic and this is essentially where our new systems of local, sustainable agriculture come in.

If you buy local:
Your food travels about 50 miles (or even less!) to get to you, which means it takes approximately 95% less energy to transport than the average meal from the grocery store.
Most local organic farms, including Harmony Farm, use water conservation techniques that drastically reduce the amount of water we need to grow. We also use cover crops and other growing techniques, which actually sequester carbon, which makes farming a positive contributor to our struggle with climate change.
At Harmony Farm we also incorporate a great deal more natural soil amendments into our land than the average factory farm, which means that we are eating more of the good stuff. We also do not spray pesticides, which means you can be sure that there are no toxins on your foods.

Even with all of these positives of local, sustainable agriculture, our farms produce a very small amount of the food that America eats. The vast majority of food is produced by around 100,000 farms in America, which are massive in scale (and clearly massive in their impact upon our society). Most small farmers struggle to survive from year to year, and this has many causes, but one of the greatest is that producing food on a small scale, while it may be highly energy efficient, is economically inefficient, which means that either our food is expensive and/or we donÂ’t make much money producing it. Folks are working to change this from within, through the utilization of farmers markets, CSAs, food aggregation hubs, as well as farm hubs, but itÂ’s an upward battle against great forces, but the greatest force in producing change in our food system is not the government, nor big corporations, it is us- the eaters. When we choose what we eat we are voting with our dollars. Usually we vote for Big Ag, whether we mean to or not, and every one of these choices is a message and a means- either to maintain the status quo of a destructive food system or hopefully a vote for change.

Picklist
Tomatoes
Cherry Tomatoes
Mesclun Salad Mix- Very tender mix of lettuces, arugula, and mustard greens.
Peppers- Mostly Red sweet peppers
Potatoes- Last of the season, red or gold
Eggs- Enjoy!

Facebookmail

Thoughts from a rainy day. – Field Notes 09/14/15

Howdy Folks!?
Me? Things are looking up. 🙂
The sun is shining and the weather is sweet. Just as fall is about to begin, the summer crops are making their final bows (other than a few more which are still waiting in the wings), next week we should have a new lineup of crops. We are beginning our preparations for the coming fall and winter but there is plenty of work left to do right now.

Thoughts from a rainy day.

Something about the rain changes my outlook on the world. ItÂ’s as if it cools down my mind as well as the air and with each drop that hits upon my brow my thoughts get clearer. This morning was such a time. I woke before dawn like a child on christmas morning hoping for the ground to be blanketed by snow, but in this case it was a hope that I would hear the rainfall outside my bedroom window. Alas it was not so, and even though it was 4 am I looked to the weather maps to see if the rain had missed us once again. It has been that kind of a summer- when the rain clouds seem to skirt our ridge and head north or south but not to us. The ground has laid parched for weeks and the air has shimmered with its radiating heat.
This has stressed me out as much as I imagine it has the plants- most donÂ’t like it hot and dry. We have gotten by with our irrigation, but it has been a challenge. Years past we havenÂ’t even needed any additional water, but this year has been different, but every year is different.
That seems to be the new norm- that change is the only constant and that adaptability is the only reasonable course of action. This is a challenge in many ways- it requires a great deal of knowledge, creative thinking, acting on your toes, not to mention time and money to implement these changes. The great challenge is that it seems as soon as we implement one change in response to the fluctuating weather, the weather changes too. There is a half joking line of thought among farmers- that when you water it will rain. You leave the windows open it will do the same. Unfortunately the world doesnÂ’t work like this- or I would be a much happier fellow right now. Alas we are at the whims of nature and the best that we can do is adapt.

How do we adapt to an ever changing world?

In some professions it is easier than others, but in farming it can be a challenge. The temperatures, precipitation, and pests may change over night, but the sun and the earth pay them no heed as they carry on in the rhythmic procession through the seasons (which primarily dictate what can be planted and when). We do our best, but alas we are servants of the earth and must follow its rhythms before anything else.
This is in essence one of the great questions of this century- how do we grow more food in a more complex and challenging environment, when resources and margin of profit dwindle. As we see with the seemingly unceasing droughts of the west the answers are not simple. We adapt, we diversify, but in a broader sense these issues are not being addressed by our society.

——I’ll write more on this and the state of agriculture in our world next week———

Cheers-
Farmer Sky

Picklist
Tomatoes- maybe last of the season. 🙁
Peppers- sweet and bell
Basil or Parsley (probably the last basil of the year)
Acorn Squash or Butternut Squash
Kale or Swiss Chard
Honey- Enjoy!
Black Pepper- Imported by myself from India, it is Malabar peppercorns, which are considered some of the best in the world. (Cheat Lake folks will be getting eggs, since yaÂ’ll already got the peppercorns)

Facebookmail

The Forest for the Trees – Field Notes 9/7/15

The Forest for the Trees- my annual seasonal mantra

At times its easy to get lost in the work of the farm. At times (actually pretty much always) it is all consuming. There are few seconds in the day when I donÂ’t think about the farm, or the veggies- this time of year is especially like that. Sometimes it is good. Sometimes it is a little too much, but for all of that I wouldnÂ’t trade it for anything else. That said, this season has been a challenge.
The rain came and did not relent until- like that! It was gone and since it has been dry as a bone. The tomatoes grew wildly and fruited prolifically and then they have slowed to a trickle. ThatÂ’s the life of a vegetable farmer. ThatÂ’s life on the farm.

All of that said IÂ’m not writing to complain but share with you thoughts that often break through my one track mind at times like these- when what we are doing seems to leave room for little else. Lately I have been so obsessed with getting it done, with catching up for lost time, for making sure that our fall goes well, that sunsets have passed by unnoticed, that shooting stars have not caught my eye for thoughts of the morningÂ’s work to come, when I should be looking up at the sky.
Life after all isnÂ’t only about accomplishment- its about enjoying the fruits of our labor, its about sharing those few precious moments when the silence outside in the starry night becomes the silence within, when we hold hands and no longer feel alone but together, or we sit and watch the evening sun fade into the night. Its not about 1000 pounds of tomatoes or even 10 pounds, but about that one single divine bite, when I realize that the farm isnÂ’t a great check list of things to get done but a place that in its essence is built, is cared for and loved not to operate at maximum efficiency and productivity, but a place where we grow love one bite at a time.

With love,
Farmer Sky

At the farm things are in transition between Summer and Fall, even though it feels hot enough to see no end in site. Crops are seeded in the field- more carrots, beets, arugula, salad mix, kale, chard, radishes, turnips, kohlrabi, the list goes on. Green Beans, Zucchini, Summer Squash, and Cucumbers are growing and we should have one last hurrah of them before the CSA winds to a close. Broccoli, Cabbage, Scallions, Napa Cabbage will be put into the ground soon.

In the field the sweet corn has made its fond farewells, and the tomatoes seem to be making their way out as well (two more weeks probably). We still have the winter squash (butternut and acorns), and sweet potatoes to harvest, and we will be doing so towards the end of the month.

Picklist
Cherry Tomatoes
Slicer and Sauce Tomatoes
Carrots
Potatoes
Basil
Peppers
Flowers

Facebookmail

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? – Field Notes Volume 3 | Number 11 August 10th, 2015

Field Notes Volume 3 | Number 11 August 10th, 2015

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

There is nothing simpler than an egg- at least as a metaphor. In actuality, although on the outside they may be the simple carrier of our yummy breakfast favorite, they are an incredibly complex vehicle of life. Eggs are a pretty amazing way to bring life into the world.
Here at the farm you might have heard me mention that we have a few chickens- WeÂ’ve had upwards of 200 this season, including 100 egg layers and 100 broilers. I donÂ’t get to spend enough time with them as I would like, but chickens are pretty special to me. They are kind of like our own personal feathery dinosaurs, and a bunch of clucking punchlines to a joke that never seemed all that funny until you get to know a chicken.
Chickens are strange- They are an amazing combination of smartness and lower intelligence. Chances are they have more common sense than any of us, but they are about as simple as warm blooded animals get, but that doesnÂ’t mean I donÂ’t love them. Something about their simplicity is not only appealing but also admirable. Often I think I wish my life were more like one of our chickens, where I woke with the rising sun and busied myself until it got so high and hot that the only reasonable thing to do was to go back inside and I would stay there until it got cool enough to venture out again to see what opportunity had brought me. That might be a farmers life if time and money werenÂ’t the basic rhythms of our lives, but

Day Old Rhode Island Red

Day Old Rhode Island Red

they are so I donÂ’t get to live like the chickens.
I introduced yaÂ’ll to the Rhode Island Reds as soon as they arrived, theyÂ’ve settled in nicely and are now as much a part of the farm as any vegetable and any worker except maybe Moses. We say hello every day, and I often say good night to the ladies at night (although Tom puts them to bed about half the time.) Their days are pretty simple. The roosters crow at first light, they flock around the yard, they look for bugs, but their favorite time of day is when we bring them veggie scraps. At some point we started giving them plenty, and they quickly learned that I was the guy that brought them the good stuff. So now when I come they all come running, even if I donÂ’t have any vegetables. I think that their favorites must be zucchini, but they are really starting to love the tomatoes too, which is a good thing, because we have plenty of them and will make their eggs a lovely hue that reflects all the nutrition inside.
About a month ago we got another 50 egg birds (called Red Sex Links) which were supposed to be ready to lay. It took them a bit of time before they got used to the place. At first they (we call them blondies) seemed like they might not fit in with the farm crowd- they were fussy, and

Blondies enjoying the grass.

Blondies enjoying the grass.

didn’t really care for the vegetables that we gave them, which would shrivel up in their yard as the Rhodies devoured anything they could get. I pointed out to anyone who would see how they were suffering from the same problems that most Americans do- we are addicted to corn and soy, and wouldn’t know much good food even if it were thrown at us. But after about three weeks of me throwing veggies to them they’ve finally gotten over their pickiness (I think it was the sweet corn and maters). That was also around the time that they began to lay eggs! 10 Days ago I discovered the first 2 eggs in the dirt and today Tom gathered 19 from their laying box. Every day there are more and more and hopefully within a month we will begin selling them. When I cracked the first egg I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and color- the yolks are almost as dark as the sungold cherry tomatoes! So the blondies have settled in pretty well, they have even gotten used to farm life and even let two of the Rhodie roosters join them (although they seem to tolerate them more than accept them).
So why did the chicken cross the road?

To eat the good stuff, same as us.

-Enjoy, Farmer Sky

CSA pick-list
Sweet Corn!- Mini Mr. Marai
Cherry Tomatoes- Sun Gold, Sun Peach, Sweet Treats, White Cherry, Black Cherry, and MattÂ’s Wild. Do not refrigerate! We are freezing them whole to preserve for winter.
Beefsteak Tomatoes- Moscovitch, Big Beef, and Brandywine. Really flowing now.
Gold Potatoes- Red Maria. Enjoy!
Basil- Just a bit. If you canÂ’t eat it you can freeze it and it will be a lovely addition to winter dishes.

First Eggs!

First Eggs!

 

Facebookmail

The Chicken – Field Notes Volume 3 | Number 10 August 3rd, 2015

Field Notes Volume 3 | Number 10 August 3rd, 2015

The Chicken

Today Athena drove the last of the broilers to be slaughtered at Working H Market outside of McHenry, MD. They were the last 18 of the 50 Red Rangers that we have been raising since May. We processed the first 32 a couple of weeks ago at the farm, but due to some technical difficulties we didnÂ’t get to finish.
Slaughtering that many birds is a big job, both in terms of organization and time, but most of all for me the hardest part is killing the chickens, but it is also the most meaningful. I picked these birds up as day old chicks from the post office, they were a chirping box full of joy and concern, and even for a man as hard as myself, it brought a smile and some tenderness to my heart. We cared for them for 12 weeks- feeding, watering, and moving them twice a day. Most of those duties were taken on by Tom and Myra, but I too always had an eye and an ear out for them. I enjoyed watching them grow and fed them a lot of the same vegetables that we gave to the CSA. They loved them and ate
everything that I gave.
For some folks killing animals might be easy, they might think nothing of it, but I am not one of those folks. I believe that death is part of life,

Red Rangers wondering what is for dinner.

Red Rangers wondering what is for dinner.

and that we humans are a part of that natural cycle. This does not discount the fact that all animals have a right to a decent life with fresh air, fresh water, sufficient food, and without unnecessary stress. This unfortunately isnÂ’t true of the large majority of animals raised in the United States or the world.
Every year in the US 10 billion animals are slaughtered for meat, almost all of them in confinement operations, where the animals live in poor conditions and are constantly stressed. I eat this meat on a weekly basis, so do you, so does nearly everyone who eats meat. We usually donÂ’t ask any questions, and if we do itÂ’s usually not the right ones. I try not to let this bring me down. I fully believe that eating should be not only an act of nourishment, but also one of joy, and there is no bigger buzz kill than the crazy farmer sitting across from you telling everybody how the animals have suffered for our meat. This doesnÂ’t make it any less true though, so for me, raising animals for meat- that get the basic rights of a good life, whose days are filled with sunshine

All grown up and living the good life

All grown up and living the good life

and fresh grass, who only suffer for the singular moment when death meets them- is not only a duty that I feel deeply, but also a privilege. When I or you, or anyone eats one of our birds,  they will taste some healthy, flavorful chicken, but we can also feel secure that there is happiness in those chickens, and that they were loved from their first day to their last.
Last week we roasted two of them for a dinner to welcome a new member to the farm crew- Amanda, but also to share in giving thanks for what we have and celebrate in sharing. The birds were at the center of it all, plucked and roasted, devoid of their regal plumage, but looking lovely in the pan (and tasting lovely too!). I donÂ’t think too much about the living animal when I eat these birds, but for just a moment I looked at the tasty leg that I held in my hand, and thought how thankful I was for their life, for their deaths,
and for the yummy goodness that they blessed us with.
Enjoy- Farmer Sky

CSA pick-list
Sweet Corn!- Mini Mr. Marai
Zucchini- Enjoy!
Cherry Tomatoes- Sun Gold, Sun Peach, Sweet Treats, White Cherry, Black Cherry, and MattÂ’s Wild. Do not refrigerate! Beefsteak Tomatoes- Moscovitch, Big Beef, and Brandywine. They are starting to come on strong!
Red Potatoes- Red Maria. Enjoy!
Basil- Just a bit. If you canÂ’t eat it you can freeze it and it will be a lovely addition to winter dishes.

Moses guarding the rangers their first day on pasture

Moses guarding the rangers their first day on pasture

Facebookmail

Sharing the Harvest – Field Notes Volume 3 | Number 9 July 26th, 2015

Field Notes Volume 3 | Number 9 July 2th, 2015

Sharing the Harvest

Sometimes the farm is overwhelmed with beauty and abundance- the leaves of fresh greens shimmer in the morning sun, the crops stand in neat rows and disappear off into the distance, the bluebirds swoop through the air and alight upon a tomato stake. Sometimes things are not so pretty- the weeds- left uncultivated for want of dry ground rise up between the rows, a beds of beans which were the day before reaching up to the heavens are chopped
down by deer.
This season has had a lot of both. We have had high days and low days. Wet spells and dry spells, and wet spells, and even more wet spells. ItÂ’s hard to remember if this year was as wet as the last, but it can be hard to think otherwise when the rain comes and doesnÂ’t relent. This year has been especially hard for most farmers in the area, at the markets I see much less than even in previous years, but we at Harmony Farm and in the CSA have been blessed with a great start to our season. Carrots, beets,

Laying Hens enjoying the good Life. eggs coming soon!

Laying Hens enjoying the good Life. eggs coming soon!

sugar snap peas, spinach, zucchini, and cucumbers have flowed in greater number than years past. Others stand prolifically in the field waiting for their call to the stage- sweet corn, watermelon, and cantaloupe and a grand abundance and variety of tomatoes. Honestly I have been very happy with the shares this year. We were blessed mostly by good fortune and timing in the early season which allowed us to get many crops in the ground when other farmers were not so fortunate.
Recently though things have become a challenge- the rain comes and doesnÂ’t let up, workers leave, deer come, and a million and one things hit us at once and all we can do is hustle and carry on to try to stay ahead. These kinds of season seem to be becoming more and more common with the onset of climate change and are another grand problem to solve in the life of a farm
and a farmer.
Harmony Farm has implemented some of these strategies, which can help to mitigate the effects of highly variable weather events, but farming is a growing and learning experience even for the most seasoned among us.

new fence overlooking the garden

new fence overlooking the garden

What this weather has meant for the farm is that some of our scheduled plantings could not make it into the ground, while others have suffered in the wet conditions and have met an untimely demise. We do our best to counter these impacts, by planting a greater variety of crops, but mother nature and father time will not be denied their due. Some items that we hoped would be continuously available will not be for the near future- cabbage, salad mix, spinach, scallions, while others may be in short supply- zucchini and cukes (although I imagine some of you have had enough of both for a while). With this break in the weather we are blessed once again with the chance to plant and prepare for the time ahead and fall looks promising for bountiful harvests.
That is what a CSA is about- it is a mutual relationship established upon trust and the assumption of a shared risk that helps farmers farm and eaters eat. When there is more abundance we try to share as much as we can, and when times are lean we hope you will understand that we do our best to make sure you have enough. We hope that you have been and will continue to be happy with the CSA and that you look forward as much as we do to the harvests
ahead. -Farmer Sky

CSA pick-list
Cherry Tomatoes- Enjoy! Please do not refrigerate!
Beefsteak Tomatoes- Enjoy, Please do not refrigerate!
Zucchini- Just a bit.
Cucumbers- Just a bit.
Kale- Try a kale salad!
Basil or Parsley- Try pesto! Store in a cool place in your kitchen in water (like a flower)
Beets- I love them roasted whole and sliced into a simple salad with goat cheese.

Pretty Zinnia.

Pretty Zinnia.

Facebookmail

Food Creativity and Togetherness – Field Notes Volume 3 | Number 6 July 6th, 2015

Field Notes Volume 3 | Number 6 July 6th, 2015

Food Creativity and Togetherness

by Athena Freedlander

Happy 4th of July, everyone! Sky and I were talking after dinner tonight about food. We talk about food all the time, naturally, with our lives centering around it not only as the stuff that fuels our bodies, but the stuff that sustains our livelihoods- his in agriculture and mine in the restaurant industry. After an uplifting and energizing Sunday at the Bridgeport Farmers Market, I had a lot to say tonight about the ability of food to creatively engage and bring people together. Sky suggested that I write the field notes this week. So here I am, and here it goes…

?Sweet corn basking in the Sun.

?Sweet corn basking in the Sun.

Today I saw people being creatively inspired by food everywhere. I saw kids rushing towards brightly colored vegetables and creating little ‘rainbow’ salads at the POP tent. I saw chefs making chilled beet soup that glowed with such a rich magenta, that it seemed it would glow in the dark. The soup was finished with smoked goat cheese and poblano jam, which brought an unexpected splash of white and green, something Jackson Pollack might have eaten. I saw Sky ?????????????carefully setting up the Harmony Farm tables with a keen eye for color and texture- bright yellow squash, smooth and shiny, piled high next to copious bunches of gentle green lacinato kale, with its broad, supple leaves laced with dark purple. A stack of carrot bunches in the middle obviously drew many admirers- they were amongst the first things to sell out! Carrots are such expressive vegetables! With those bright green, abundant, lacy tops (make them into a pesto!) and vibrant orange bodies that remind me of lightning bolts sometimes, or dancer’s legs, or tree roots, or a network of rivers or veins- nature gives us patterns and ways to see things differently all the time, if we stay open to it.

The people at the farmers market were all participating in a creative celebration, whether they were conscious of it or not. There was an intricately interwoven shared celebration of food and life happening all day. From the kids coming to build something full of color and learn a bit about nutrition at the POP Club, to the farmers’ harvests and farm stands, displaying their flavorful bounty, inspiring the way people cook at their homes or restaurants. Everyone was smiling and engaged with their surroundings and with each other all day. The chefs chatted with farmers, and parents chatted with the chefs, while the kids chatted with everyone and looked curiously at the bright pink beet soup.

a lovely beet

a lovely beet

Today was wonderful. It can get discouraging sometimes when I read too much about our broken food system, or the state of our health as a nation, but seeing all these people from our community today coming together and celebrating reminded me of what is at the heart of our relationship with food. It is union. It is the stuff that nourishes not only our bodies, but binds our creative souls. It is the stuff that brings us together and reminds us that life is good.
Happy 4th to all of you- have a great week! I hope to see you at the market!!
-Athena Freedlander

CSA pick-list
Salad Mix or Spinach – Enjoy!
Scallions- Enjoy!
Zucchini- Enjoy!
Cucumbers- Enjoy!
Carrots- A strong flavored, robust variety, which would be great roasted.
Basil or Parsley- First of the season! Do not refrigerate! Store in a cool place in your kitchen in water (like a flower)
Red Cabbage- Great as a slaw, chopped salad, or stir fried.

Butternut squash plant.

Butternut squash plant.

Facebookmail
Older posts