Author: Farmer Sky (page 2 of 6)

More Than a Vegetable – Field Notes Volume 3 | Number 5 June 29th, 2015

Field Notes Volume 3 | Number 5 June 29th, 2015

More Than a Vegetable

by Sky Harman

Lately we have been busy, but thatÂ’s nothing new, even in winter. Some people say thatÂ’s the life of a farmer, summerÂ’s on and winters off, but in reality we donÂ’t take much time at all, although the pace in winter is a bit less hectic and less physically demanding. Usually when we go to the grocery store, or even the farmerÂ’s market, we forget what goes into the vegetables that we see. We think of them like any other product, something that pops out at the end of an assembly line, which looks as much like our platonic vision of whatever the particular vegetable should appear.

?Sky wandering through tomatoes.

Sky wandering through tomatoes.

Farming is not like that. Even the big farms can only aspire to the platonic ideal of perfect products and maximum efficiency. There is a lot that goes into growing what you eat and there tends to be a lot that is wasted in the process of getting it to market (although our goal is zero waste through the use of animals and composting). At Harmony Farm, we aspire to higher ideals than the average farm because we feel that growing food is not only a physical act, but a healthful, and even spiritual one, and doing this has a greater cost both in terms of time and money.
The differences between organically produced veggies and conventional ones can be great or small, typically with the organic stuff that we purchase in the stores, the difference isn’t so great- the farmer replaces one set of fertilizer, insecticides, pesticides, fungicides, etc. for another; but at Harmony Farm, we do things differently.

The longer I do this the more of a dollars and cents kind of guy I am, but unfortunately for the bottom line, I canÂ’t let go of the nagging feeling that farming is not just business but a calling, and a service that is greater than the sum of our efforts. What this means is that we not only consider the economics. effeciency and safety of our growing practices, but also the environmental, healthful, moral and even spiritual cost of what we do.

The farm at dusk.

The farm at dusk.

What that means is that those carrots that you will eat this week arenÂ’t just carrots, they are a dream, a vision. They are a belief that what we eat doesnÂ’t just feed our bodies, but reaches into our souls, and that when we grow them we have a responsibility to care for them as such, to consider more than just regulation and the bank, because the bottom line of farming is much deeper than that.
Having this relationship with what we grow and the land from which it comes is a challenge. It takes time, money, care, and a great deal of consideration. All of this flies in the face of the pressures of modern economics, where quantity and efficiency are paramount, and quality is only considered as a factor in purchasing decisions and shelf life. It takes years to make it work right and in the mean time we have greater levels of loss and/or a reduction in quality because of it. We strive for the optimum balance between the two, but this is a balancing act- one that changes with the conditions that we face.

In practical terms this means that we only use organically approved products in and on our fields, but we go beyond this too. Some things that are organically approved, may still have harmful consequences for the applicator and/or the eater, and we will not use a product that we do not understand, and only use the ones that we are confident are safe. What this has led me to is a biological approach, where much of our pest and disease management is a positive approach where we attempt to boost the plants immune systems rather than fight whatever is out there. In doing this we not only increase the nutrients our plants get, but also increase the nutrients that you eat too. This can usually be seen in darker colors in our vegetables and usually more flavor too!

Enjoy!- Farmer Sky

CSA pick-list
Salad Mix – Enjoy!
Greens – Either Lacinato, Curly Kale, or Swiss Chard
Zucchini- Enjoy!
Cucumbers- Enjoy!
Carrots- A strong flavored, robust variety, which would be great roasted.
Beets – A great multicolored variety. The tops are huge, and would be great sauteed.
Basil- First of the season! Do not refrigerate! Store in a cool place in your kitchen in water (like a flower)

new fence going up.

new fence going up.

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The Carrot and the Stick – Field Notes Volume 3 | Number 4 June 21, 2015

Field Notes Volume 3 | Number 3 June 15th, 2015

The Carrot and the Stick

Today I spoke at Church. Most Sundays IÂ’m too busy at market, but today Tom and Patsy took over market duties at Bridgeport and I got to go to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Morgantown to speak about local agriculture and Harmony Farm. It was an easy or me to do, since I think about it pretty much all of the time, and I can get awfully preachy if you give me the chance. 🙂
I just wanted to share a few of the thoughts that I shared there with you.

Just a Rainbow :)

Just a Rainbow 🙂

Our agricultural system is broken. The facts and statistics are overwhelming and I wonÂ’t burden you too much with them here but here are just a few- Over 60% of fossil fuels are used in the production and transportation of food. Over 1/3 of all food is wasted. More than 50% of all trash is from the food system. Americans spend less than anyone ever on food, yet our diets are literally killing us. The vast monocultures are depleting our environment, killing our wildlife, and creating vast areas that are unlivable and potentially dangerous (through the application of pesticides). Six companies control the majority of our agricultural industry, from seed to pesticide and now more and more to processed foods. The worldÂ’s resources of potassium and phosphorus (necessary to plant growth) are extremely limited and controlled by a small amount of corporations. 75%of antibiotics are used in theproduction of meat, and this is causing disease resistant strains of bacteria. In America 10 billion animals are slaughtered every year, over 99% in factory confinement. GMOÂ’s are more and more common and there is little oversight of their testing, production, and distribution. Our government is not willing, nor able, to deal with these problems because the agricultural lobbyists are too powerful and government agencies are hamstrung by these corporate interests. Thats the bad news, although there is much more, and it is overwhelming.
All this being said, I believe there is hope. That is why I do what I do. I think change is simple. Change is a choice. Its saying yes to the alternative. ItÂ’s being willing to pay a bit more. ItÂ’s accepting vegetables that look and taste a bit different. ItÂ’s thinking about the quality of what we eat. ItÂ’s thinking about how the animals live and die that we eat. Its engaging in what we eat- thinking about it, talking about it, enjoying it. ItÂ’s considering who grows our food, why, how, and caring about them not just as producers but as human beings that deserve just wages and a life of human dignity.

the proverbial carrot

the proverbial carrot

These are big goals, but all it takes is a big yes (and maybe a small no)! For me I think that it can be hard to make the right choices and easy to feel guilty for making the wrong ones, but I don’t think that that is productive. What is, is enjoying our food, savoring it, and celebrating around it. Real food, good food, local food tastes better and has more nutrition.

When you make this choice- when you join a CSA or shop at the farmerÂ’s market- you are taking that step. When we make these choices, when we say yes again and again is how we can begin to change the food system. The choice is simple I say eat the Carrot, lose the stick. 🙂

CSA pick-list
Spinach – Enjoy!
Greens – Either Lacinato, Curly Kale, or Swiss Chard
Peas – Last week, enjoy!
Beets – A great multicolored variety. The tops are huge, and would be great sauteed.
Zucchini- A bit more this week. Enjoy!
Cucumbers- Just a bit. Enjoy!
For Market-Style CSA Customers:
Market customers will receive Spinach, Greens and Beets, and Cucumbers with your choice of additional items.

Multicolored beets- 3 Root Grex

Multicolored beets- 3 Root Grex

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Mother of the Garden – Field Notes Volume 3 | Number 3 June 15th, 2015

Field Notes Volume 3 | Number 3 June 15th, 2015

Mother of the Garden

by Sky Harman

As a farmer the farm is pretty much always on my mind. Its my first thought in the morning and my last thought at night. Sometimes IÂ’ll wake in the middle of the night wondering if I watered the seedlings or turned on the electric fence. I dream about it every night too. That is the curse of the vegetable farmer. The folks that work with me probably feel like they are just as invested in the farm as I am, but I doubt that they can be no matter how much they care, until they have birthed it and cared for it and watched it grow like I have. Being a vegetable farmer is probably like being a mother (I canÂ’t say for sure, but the amount of care and worry that I put into things (both vital and completely unreasonable) makes me feel like a mother).

Just a daisy and a snap pea.

Just a daisy and a snap pea.

Of course there are a lot of fatherly duties around the place, like fixing things, and killing things, and acting like I know what I am doing even if I donÂ’t, but mostly its motherly duties- itÂ’s about care. IÂ’m not saying that caring or farming is womenÂ’s work (even though women are 70 percent of the food producers of the world and sustain the majority of the worldÂ’s population through their efforts in subsistence agriculture), but these attributes are typically described as feminine virtues, and I will accept that as praise for my profession and the women of the world who keep things going. A lot of care goes into the farm and the food we eat. It started way before the seeds were even bought, with planning and preparation, carried on with cleaning and maintenance, seeding, fertilizing, tilling, planting, cultivating, protecting (for disease, insects, deer and rabbits, etc…. Somewhere along the way yaÂ’ll joined in for another year of veggies or to give Harmony FarmÂ’s program a true and then began another round of planning and preparation, and then things were almost ready to harvest and the date was here, but me I couldnÂ’t help but feel like mom on the first day of school excited and

View in the field.

View in the field.

nervous and fussing over the little bits, and the regrets, and the worries, but thinking hopefully at the same time…. And then there it was we began the harvest and here it is and there it goes. And soon enough my baby will be all grown up as the frost hits and the folks that have made Harmony Farm function find different ways to occupy themselves and then once again IÂ’ll be left alone a farmer standing in fields of what was, what can be, and what will be.
Somehow I think its a feeling only a mother could understand.
Enjoy-Farmer Sky

ps. Things are growing well! Our spring plantings, I think were a success, and our summer plantings are coming along well. This week yaÂ’ll are seeing the first of the summer fruits in the zucchini, and the cukes and tomatoes are beginning to fruit. I think we should see the first ripe ones in a few weeks if the weather holds up. Speaking of weather, this rain has been a blessing as the ground was quite parched although we have been irrigating regularly. We are going to begin putting the new fence up this week, which will be a very big project.

CSA pick-list
Salad Mix – Enjoy!
Greens – Either Kale, Swiss Chard or Mustard Greens
Snow Peas – Enjoy!
Broccoli! – Looks like the last week for our spring planting, which I have been very happy with
Carrots – Great every which way, but I think this variety, Mokum which is the sweetest there is tastes especially good raw.
Scallions- enjoy!
Kohlrabi- Crispier than a radish, but
with no spice, these tasty veggies are great roasted, or shredded on a salad, but I like them best sliced thinly and sprinkled with sea salt and cayenne
For Market-Style CSA Customers:
You will receive Salad Mix, Peas, Broccoli, Carrots and greens with your choice of addtional items.

Morning dew on kale

Morning dew on kale

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The Power of Produce – Field Notes Volume 3 | Number 2 June 8th, 2015

Field Notes Volume 3 | Number 2 June 8th, 2015

The Power of Produce

I think I always liked veggies. ItÂ’s been a long time since I was a kid, although sometimes it seems like it was yesterday, so I canÂ’t exactly remember. But IÂ’m pretty sure I liked to eat about everything- even a lot of stuff (like soap and poison berries) that I shouldnÂ’t have wanted to eat. Most kids donÂ’t seem like that. There are the odd few who feel kindred spirits to me who have an adventurous spirit and will try just about anything- but most donÂ’t like much of anything thatÂ’s green and some donÂ’t even like the sweet stuff. I have spent a lot of time pondering over peopleÂ’s pallets wondering why some of us like some

?Magic Molly potato plants

Magic Molly potato plants

things, some like others, some like pretty much everything and some seemingly donÂ’t like much of anything thatÂ’s green. I donÂ’t have the answers, and honestly havenÂ’t researched it enough to have an opinion based on anything more than that. I have my theories- mostly based around what a mother eats during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but they are only that. But even with all of these ideas I feel confident that most people can learn to love vegetables and live and feel healthier for it.
All you old and grown folks please accept my apologies in advance- I love it when yaÂ’ll get excited about what we grow, when I can see the kid inside shine through and a bit of that chlld-like joy shine through, but nothing gets me more excited about growing vegetables than when I get to see and to share in the joy of a kid who eats a vegetable for the first time and likes it. Honestly I even get a kick out of seeing them make those little faces of displeasure when something doesnÂ’t suit their palate. 🙂

Lately I have gotten to see a lot of these kids around the markets, particularly at the Bridgeport Market, where my lady friend Athena has developed a program called POP, or the Power of Produce. This program, which is modeled after one of the same name that was created in Oregon, seeks to introduce kids to the fun and excitement of veggies, through activities and giving kids tokens that they can spend of veggies at the market. It just got started, but already seems on its way to great success by the looks on the childrenÂ’s and their parents faces.
This kind of thing is especially important in our state, since we face a crisis in our food system and rising incidence of childhood diseases related to nutrition- such as diabetes, as well as many lifestyle diseases like cardiovascular disease, increased rates of cancers, and even allergies and asthma (which have some correlation to exposure to both positive and negative agents such as microbes), which tend develop with the choices that we make early in life. I won’t get too far into this, since I am a bit out of my depth, but for me the causes and solutions are simple- a good diet, a healthy lifestyle and healthy environment means a better chance at good health and a good life.

View in the Field

View in the Field

ItÂ’s all too easy for us to make the wrong choices, since our lifestyles and eating habits have been geared towards a lifestyle of convenience, where were have largely given up responsibility over what we eat and placed it instead in the hands of food scientists and large multinational corporations that just donÂ’t have our health or best interests in mind, but rather are most interested in profits, market share and efficiency of production.
We always have a choice, and I commend you all and your families for seeking to make healthy choices by incorporating fresh organically raised vegetables into your daily lives, but the longer we eat unhealthy foods the harder it is for us to break those patterns. Our bodies actually adjust to what we eat and it even effects the basic composition of our beings (for instance in the flora of our digestive system). And thatÂ’s why itÂ’s so vital that we get kids interested and excited in eating vegetables- because they are the basis of a healthy diet, but for me all of these words are really just a big excuse for trying to get kids to be excited about what they eat and maybe smile at a vegetable.
Enjoy-Farmer Sky

CSA pick-list
Salad Mix – Enjoy!
Kale – Great sauteed, pan fried, or baked into kale chips. We have been enjoying quite a bit of kale salad lately
Peas (either sugar snap or snow peas) – Can be eaten whole. Sweetest thing of the season.
Broccoli! – Should be around for at least another week- this hot weather takes a bit of a toll on it though
Baby Beets – Great roasted or boiled. The greens are very similar to swiss chard
and should be prepared the same. I will be making a roasted beet salad for lunch tom orrow
Scallions- enjoy!
For Market-Style CSA Customers:
You will receive Salad Mix, Peas, Broccoli, and Beets with your choice of addtional items.

Feed everyone.

Feed everyone.

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Laying an Egg. – Field Notes Volume 3 | Number 1 June 1st, 2015

Field Notes Volume 3 | Number 1 June 1st, 2015

Laying an Egg.

Some times I feel like a mother hen. ItÂ’s as if I was sitting on a big egg, which happens to be the whole farm- worrying and waiting and tending and doing all of the things that I imagine go through a hens little head. Sometimes I envy the simplicity of the hens life- how simple it would be if my needs and the farms needs were as simple as just sitting on an egg and eating my fill. The farm is more complex than that. On the good days I feel like a conductor orchestrating all of the little parts that go into making the symphony of the garden sound sweet. Some days I am a plumber, some days an electrician, some days a carpenter, some days a factory worker, and some days an accountant, and every day a boss 🙁

Chard Gleaming in the sunshine

Chard Gleaming in the sunshine

Some days its great, some days itÂ’s not, some days its both. Every day there is at least a moment when I am thankful for this life, for being able to hear the sweet sound of bird song, for the sunshine, for being able to look over and see my buddy Moses laying in the sun. ThatÂ’s when I know that life is good, when I can look across the field and see everything growing and all of the promise of sharing that joy with you.
That’s what it is all about. Because for every day with sunshine, there is another that is miserably cold or miserably hot. Everything evens out except the joy that we can share with others. That’s the good stuff. That’s the taste of the sweetest corn we have ever had or the juiciest tomato sandwich. It’s the prayer before a meal and leaning back in your chair when it is done. Those are the blessings that make this work worth doing and that is why we farm.
This winter two venerable farmers who have touched my life passed on, and put their mud boots away for one last time: Del Yoder of Owl Creek, and Patricia Keith of Ridgeway Farm. My words would never do their lives nor deeds justice, but I feel the need in mentioning their passing, not to express the immensity of their loss to this world, but for what it means to the farmers who live and carry on after them.
Farming is a struggle- that is why less than one percent of Americans do it and even less try to make a living at it. Its a gamble, and a fight, and a hard road to walk upon. I can’t speak too much about down the road (because I am not there yet), but I imagine that some things get easier and some things get harder the further down the road you get. Many folks quit, or sell the farm, but these folks were not that sort. They are the kind of people that aren’t made any more, who carried on with the determination and perseverance in the face of all challenges, who took them on with open minds and determined hearts. They struggled not

Moses checking on The broilers

Moses checking on The broilers

only to improve their own lots but also the lot of others around them and those that would come after. For that I owe them a great debt, because without folks like that- who are too faithful and foolish to believe that dreams are impossible, but can be made real through sweat and blood, this country would not be so great, this life and this place we call home would be poorer for it. IÂ’m not too sentimental a man, but I think that is worth a bit of sentiment, so there it is. 🙂

For me IÂ’ll sweat while I can and try not to complain too much. Every year is a great gift to us all and I am truly thankful. This season, although it is shaping up to be a challenging one, has started off blessed and we look to be in for good and fruitful harvests. I am lucky and thankful to share this with you. So for me and for you- lets remember to enjoy the sunshine while its still light out.

Enjoy. -Farmer Sky

CSA pick-list
Salad Mix – Enjoy!
Red Kitten Baby Spinach- Enjoy it as a salad green, or try it lightly cooked. It is so light and tender though right now that it would be best raw.
Lacinato Kale – Great sauteed, pan fried, or baked into kale chips.
Rainbow Swiss Chard – Enjoy!
Sugar Snap Peas – Can be eaten whole. Sweetest thing of the season.
Broccoli?! – ItÂ’s just about ready, if we can harvest enough for everyone I will be a happy man. 🙂
French Breakfast Radishes – Spicy, Crunchy, Crispy. Great addition to a salad or on buttered bread.
For Market-Style CSA Customers:
You will receive Salad Mix, Spinach, Snap Peas, and Broccoli with your choice of addtional items.

Mixed lettuce

Mixed lettuce

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The Culture in Agriculture – Oct 24, 2014

Howdy Folks!?

The last week is here can you believe it?

It’s been great to have you all as a part of Harmony Farm’s CSA!

In this weeks pick list I tried to include a bunch of stuff that would keep well, so that you can enjoy some of our veggies throughout the colder months, but if you still want more, we will be at the Morgantown Market and the Bridgeport Market until the veggies run out (not any time soon!). I’ll send an email out soon with more details about the markets. We also are about to slaughter 25 pasture raised chickens that Tom raised and those will be for sale soon. More details to follow.

Pick list
Salad mix
Spinach
Cabbage – should store for a couple of months
Hot peppers- should keep quite a while
Potatoes
Acorn Squash- should keep a couple of months
Garlic – keep in a dark place, hopefully will last you for a while
Cilantro
Maybe something else

The Culture in Agriculture

This is the last week of the CSA. Firstly, I want to thank everyone who took part in Harmony FarmÂ’s CSA, and the people who helped make it happen. There is no Harmony Farm, no agriculture without the people who support us.

ItÂ’s a special day for me- Last year at this time I had just gotten out of the hospital, most people who I told that I would farming again this year thought I was crazy. Maybe I am crazy, no I know IÂ’m crazy, but sharing my dream of fresh, healthy food with you folks is what itÂ’s all about for me.

After my accident, I was in the ambulance barely holding onto consciousness, a paramedic over me putting IVÂ’s into me and a tourniquet on my wrist and I was crying. Big surprise hungh? A bad accident and I was crying. Well, for me it is a big deal, I donÂ’t cry no matter how bad it hurts or how deeply I feel, somehow my body just doesnÂ’t work like that (or maybe my brain, but letÂ’s not get into that now). What I was crying about wasnÂ’t the pain, or the risk of losing my hand, but that it felt like my dream of farming was over. So after surgery, when I woke up and still had a hand I realized then that the dream was still alive and I told everybody I saw that IÂ’d be farming again this year. Honestly it is what has pulled me through, knowing that I had people to feed and plants to care for.

This isnÂ’t just about me though. This is about something bigger and greater than myself. This is about being human, being alive, being American, being from West-By God- Virginia, and calling Morgantown our home. Agriculture is important. ItÂ’s how we eat and itÂ’s how we survive. In modern America we can take for granted where our food comes from, because it comes from the super market from God knows where, but even then it is important to us. We cook when we want to celebrate, when we are feeling sick, when we are depressed, when someone dies, or someone is born. It is essential to our humanness and thatÂ’s why there is culture in Agriculture.

To culture means to grow, it also means a society of a particular time and place. American culture is a conglomeration of many cultures, many peoples who have left their mark on our identities, our language, our arts, our foods. Today, much of what defines us as a modern society is made by machines, in far off factories where the people who work speak in foreign tongues. They tell us that this is necessary and that it is good. We do all reap the benefit of global industrialization, but it can be all too easy to forget that what makes us who we are is not just the things we own or what we do, but the place we live, the people who share our lives, what we eat for dinner, and where we spend our money. That is why Harmony Farm, local agriculture, and local business is so important to me (and why I believe it is so important to you too!). When we invest our money in local businesses, we support people who live and work with us. We can care for and nurture one another and see the results of our contributions.

Harmony Farm employed as many as 5 workers this year, in addition to myself (not to mention all of the volunteers!). ItÂ’s seasonal work, which can be grueling and the pay is low, but what that means is that by being a part of the CSA you helped at least six people who live in your community, who contribute to the future of Morgantown, West Virginia, to live here and hopefully make it a better place for all of us (or at least make it more interesting). I can tell you there were definitely some interesting conversations, some good friends made, and a bit of romance too. We also do our best to buy locally and support other local businesses, what that means is that chances are your money hasnÂ’t travelled too far from home. I believe that that is how we make this a rich and vibrant place to live by supporting where we live, the people around us, and hopefully putting a bit more culture into agriculture and back into the place that we call home.

This year Harmony Farm fed 37 families through our CSA program and served many more through the Morgantown and Bridgeport farmerÂ’s markets. How many meals that made I donÂ’t know. How many children smiled over a bite of something sweet (or frowned over something spicy L) I can only imagine. I hope that there were some romantic dinners prepared, maybe some comfort food, maybe something made for a party. However you ate it means a lot to me and thatÂ’s why itÂ’s so important that it made a grown man cry.

As always, with love and gratitude.

Farmer Sky

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Future Farms? Oct 17, 2014

Howdy Folks!?

Just one more week, can you believe it?

Things are fine out on the farm. Thank you to all who came out for the farm day, for those that didnÂ’t- you missed a swell time: great food, beer, and company. Please feel free to check the farm out some time, as we are extremely proud of it (itÂ’s my baby!) Address: 217 Morgan Hill Road.

Future Farms?

A week before the end of our CSA season, when we will say goodbye to each other for the year (although you can always say hello at the Morgantown and Bridgeport winter markets) I need to talk about something that is near and dear to my heart and that is seldom talked about in casual circles: the future of farming. There are big issues- the conflict between Organic production and conventional chemical based forms of agriculture, the rise of GMOs, the governmentÂ’s insistence on subsidizing corn and soy rather than more effective economic policies such as subsidizing small farmers or more nutritious and healthful crops; but there are issues that hit much closer to home and affect our daily lives in ways that are just as profound if not more so.

The Morgantown area, like much of modern America, is confronted with issues that are critical for our communities, for our environment, and the farmers of the region who try to scrape out a living off of the land.

I moved back to West Virginia at the age of 12, after having spent the past 10 years largely in Ohio, although I was born in rural Roane County, West Virginia. Our family also has a town named after the family up near Thomas (Harman, WV), so needless to say I feel a deep connection to this place. When we arrived here the area had little that I had come to expect from home- no walking to school, no riding my bike to the baseball card shop, and it was a little bit country. Growing up here, much of the qualities of the area that I now find dear to my heart, were beyond my simple appreciations of life- the stores werenÂ’t so great, and a lot of the folks that I went to school with were real country (or so I thought at the time) and by and large school sucked. Back then there seemed to be black cows and open green hillsides from far out, to way in Morgantown. Even though I was a superficial kid, who appreciated things and people more than place, somehow the open green spaces, the cows slowly meditatively chewing on cud, the large expanses of trees changing color in the autumn got to me- this place became as much of a home as I have ever known.

I moved back here two years ago, although I had regularly come back and witnessed the changes to my homeland. Open hillsides were replaced with developments, townhouses, shopping centers, government and university buildings sprouted up on nearly every tract of open land. I have mourned many places, where a view I once appreciated was replaced with buildings that seemed not to be concerned with their mark upon the land nor the people that would one day inhabit them. MorgantownÂ’s growth is a double edged sword- in one sense it brings in more and interesting people, it spurs an economic engine that is powered not only by the extraction of natural resources but also the power of people; and yet it forces us into hard choices that may be perilous for our community.

Open spaces are important. They not only provide a place for our eyes to wander, but do so much more- they create buffers which mediate weather changes, they retain moisture and regulate temperature, they provide habitat and forage for wildlife (Honestly I could go on and on). Needless to say they impact our lives in many ways that canÂ’t be seen.

What can be seen is equally important- open spaces (and farmland in particular) change how we look at and engage with the world. Last weekend we had our farm day up at Ridgeway Farm, in Cheat Lake. The site is right at the top of the hill and nearly surrounded by development and probably would have been developed too if not for the farsighted bravery and stubbornness of Pat Keith, who raised cattle on the land for many years. Now it is in transition to becoming a part of Human Animal Connection a non-profit project developed by Jean Meade. We are proud to be a part of this project and to help care for this land, because without the great efforts of people like Jean and Pat the little viable farmland around our area would easily disappear under the foundations of houses. This might not seem like such a big deal to you, but it is—and not just for farmers. A stable and sustainable society is one that produces enough food to feed its people. Sure we can ship it in from California, Idaho, Mexico, or China, but as transportation gets more expensive- so will our food. The issues are vast, and honestly I could write a book on it, but I would like to leave you with this thought. West Virginia is hill country- flat land is at a premium and greatly limited. If we build upon every tract of open and flat land, if farms are quickly converted into developments there is no going back from this- we can’t make more farmland, no matter what the West Virginia Department of Ag wants us to believe (with their Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations on old strip mines). In this area we need to make land conservation a priority a get our state and local governments to make this a priority while we still can.

Picklist

Head Lettuce

Spinach- This week itÂ’s a little more mature and would be great for cooking.

Butternut Squash- Makes a great soup, but also is lovely halved and roasted. Stores for up to 6 months (keep it in a cool dry place)

Purple Potatoes- Purple mashed potatoes anyone? Enjoy!

Bell Peppers- Enjoy!

Zucchini- Enjoy!

Napa Cabbage- Great as a salad, an addition to soups or stir fries

Enjoy!
-Farmer Sky

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Last year on October 14th my life was changed… Oct 10, 2014

Howdy Folks!?

Me IÂ’m pretty swell! WeÂ’re busy getting things ready for the farm day (which is Saturday, from 3-6pm), and harvesting, harvesting, harvesting.
Below is a bit about the farm day, including directions. We would love it if you can attend.

Also some of you have asked how much longer the CSA has to go- this is week 18 of 20. So 2 more weeks after this one.

Cheers-
Farmer Sky

—————————
FARM DAY
at Harmony Farm

10/11/14
217 Morgan Hill Road, Cheat Lake

(From Downtown Morgantown, take I-68E to Exit 10 (Cheat Lake), turn Left onto WV-43N, take the first exit on your right towards Bowers Lane. Turn right onto Bowers Lane. After .6 miles, turn right onto Sunset Beach Road (Look for Willow Day Spa as a marker!), follow signs up the hill for Harmony Farm!

3pm-6pm

Harmony Farm invites you, your friends and family, and anyone else you know to a celebration, a sharing at our new site at Ridgeway Farm in Cheat Lake. We would love for you to take a look around, take part in a potluck meal! Feel free to bring a dish, or a beverage!

We hope to see you there!
———–

Last year on October 14th my life was changed. I was in a tractor accident and feared that I might lose my life, my hand, or my ability to farm again. It has been a long story of recovery this year to get to this point and I must say with no small sense of pride that I made it, we made it. The journey has been hard, at times I feared that the obstacles of my recovery and my disability would be too much, that farm work would be too hard for me to continue, but here we are a year later this Tuesday and the farm is better than ever, if not perfect in my platonic vision of what a farm should be. There has been the injury and also the challenge of moving Harmony FarmÂ’s operations to the new farm site, at Ridgeway Farm, but everything has seemed easy enough after the challenge of carrying on in the face of such physical and emotional adversity.

All that being said, I couldnÂ’t have done any of this alone, nor would I choose to. Farming can be hard work and it can be good work, but what makes our jobs worthwhile is not the work itself, but sharing it with people (and sharing food with people too!). This year the folks that have made Harmony Farm work have done so much to help continue our vision of sharing good, healthful, natural, and healthful food with you. It makes me proud when others see it like I do- that farming is so much more than selling vegetables, but is an opportunity to change how we think about our food and the environment. More than anyone else, my folks- Tom and Patsy have been instrumental in helping to see this vision through. I owe them a great debt, which I fear I can only repay with my few words of love and thanks and an endless and overwhelming supply of vegetables.

The list of others who have prayed for me, or lent a hand or offered support throughout these trials is too great to place here, as is my sincerest thanks. I know that I can never give as much as I have been given but all I can do is try to be as generous with what little I have to share and confident that when someone else needs me, I will be there.

Thank you all for being part of my journey back to wellness.

Sincerely,

Farmer Sky

Picklist-

Salad Mix

Baby Kale

Salad Turnips- DonÂ’t forget that the greens are edible.

Peppers- One Green Bell, one Sweet Red Italian

Summer Squash

Scallions

Carrots

Maybe some tomatoes, but they seem almost done. 🙁

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Fall is a lovely time of year, we must agree. – Oct 3, 2014

Howdy Folks!?

I finally made it back from New Mexico, after way too much traveling and an unplanned layover in Charlotte, NC.
Travel can bring out the worst in people, but I think we can all give a little more and make it better for everyone.

Just a short note this week-

Cheers,
Farmer Sky

Fall is a lovely time of year, we must agree.

When I left it seemed that summer was carrying on as usual, but to my joy and surprise on my return the leaves had begun to change in earnest coloring the countryside with oranges, yellows, reds, and purple. Fall is magical. Life is still vibrant and flowing from the earth and the sun, whose light has yet to begin its precipitous waning into the twilight of winter. For us now this is a joyous time, when the fruits continue to ripen, yet the nights are cool and the days not so oppressive as in the peak of summer.
Going back to New Mexico was lovely, the aspen groves that mark the mountain sides were at their peak color- a rich golden saffron that blankets the slopes. When I was there they got their first frost and snowfall upon the upper peaks. Harvest was in full swing there as well, at the farmerÂ’s market, vendors had red chili powder, and ristras(a long dangling bunch of dried red chills) hanging from their stands, and the air was filled with the pungent smoke of roasting chilis. The light this time of year is amazing, its long beams seem to impart everything with a golden hue. When people say that New Mexico is the land of enchantment (their state slogan), they do not lie- there is something in the air and in the earth there that casts a spell upon most who venture there, as it does to me. I was happy to visit, to see old friends, to meet new ones, to witness the wedding of my dear friends Cory and Joanna. It is a great blessing that in this world that filled with so much angst and negativity, we can find love and that it can lift us up and make us better than who we are alone.
I did miss West Virginia though. Although New Mexico calls to me in a certain way, West Virginia always calls me back, and on my return I was greeted by that soft song that the earth hums here.

Picklist
Tomatoes- Rainbow salad slicers
Peppers- Green Bells, the red sweets are almost here!
Baby Spinach- Enjoy!
Baby Red Kale
Basil- Red and green
Potatoes
Easter Egg Radishes
Carrots

Enjoy!
Farmer Sky

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Changing of the seasons and a farmerÂ’s fashion.

As farmers we live with the seasons.

The life of a vegetable grower starts well before the first seed is planted in the ground, inside where I like to wear something comfortable, like overalls and flannel. When the first hint of warmth breaks through in early spring, when the ground begins to come alive, when the first scent of the living earth awakens- I wear overalls and flannel. When the mornings are still cool, but the days get balmy and the fragrance of flowers overtakes the air and rushes upon our senses- I wear overalls and flannel. When the days get hot and the nights are filled with the sultry hum of insects calling out in desperation for a mate- I wear overalls and a button up shirt (gotcha!). The summers it seems are all too short and give way again to the cool nights and chill mornings when the grass is covered by a heavy dew and the cry of insects gives way to the shrill song of the mercurial songbird who glides through the air on gilded wings calling to us that life is short and that we must get what we can while it is before us- I wear once again overalls and flannel.

Overalls and flannel- now that is a fashion statement, but not a fashion statement at all.

Once, when I worked for others, as soon as the temperature was tolerable I would throw off my shirt and work with my back naked to the sky. I would go shirtless until the cold became too much for the furnace that fired within my skin, but alas those days have passed. Maybe I have changed, or maybe its realizing that my body is the foundation of my work and that if I do not protect it with the care that I would give my machines, then I risk everything. Lately the farm staff and volunteers has been composed mostly of women, they seem to enjoy working in tank tops and short shorts. There has even been talk of farming in bikinis and it always makes me cringe. I must admit that I believe that the feminine form is better than any tomato, that it is the loveliest creation of this great earth, but when there is talk of farming in bikinis I long to cover all of that exposed skin in overalls and flannel, and a straw hat.

Once, when I was farming outside of DC, I was invited to join in a photo shoot of young farmers. They requested that we wear mud boots, work pants and flannel and bring along a shovel or a pitch fork. I protested, and actually did not participate, because for me my mud boots are not a fashion statement- they are what we wear so that we can do our jobs the best that we can. I went along to the photo shoot that day with a lady friend who was decked out in her sexiest mud boots and flannel shirt, but although that day I was in fact wearing mud boots, work pants and flannel, I changed out of them as soon as I had a chance. Maybe IÂ’m just contrary- I am definitely just contrary.

The point is- flannel is in this fall.

Flannel is always in for farming.

Speaking of fall, its almost here! (Tuesday, September 23rd)

This year it has felt as if it has been coming early, with the cool summer that we have had, although it is more or less right on schedule. IÂ’ve noticed a bit of color to the leaves here and there, and these nights and early mornings have definitely gotten chillier. The geese are moving southward, and currently are camped out at Owl Creek.

What that means at the farm is that the summer fruits are slowing down, although they hopefully will be with us until first frost which is typically October 15th in this area. It also means that greens, and roots are once again in season down here in the lowlands. We have plenty planted- Many lettuces, spinach, cabbage, kale, arugula, asian greens, broccoli, cauliflower, etc, which will taste better and better as the weather gets cooler. For me fall is the finest season for vegetables in this area. The greens are at their best, and although the tomatoes donÂ’t quite taste as sweet they are still with us in the field.

So enjoy it folks, because as the songbirds sing- life is short, but oh so sweet (or at least thatÂ’s what I think they are saying),
Farmer Sky

Picklist-
Sweet Corn (probably the last of the season)
Tomatoes
Basil (purple and green)
Zucchini
Cucumber
Potatoes
Green Beans
Radishes (very mild)
Mixed Salad Greens

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