Category: Facts

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

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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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What is Organic Food and does it really matter? – Field Notes Volume 1 | Number 4 | June 27th, 2013

Field Notes
Volume 1 | Number 4 | June 27th, 2013

HARMONY Farm at Owl Creek Farm

Harmony Farm’s produce is grown organically, but don’t tell the government I said so. Organic farming practices have been around since the beginning of civilization, and have been at the forefront of agricultural thought and practice since the early 20th century. “Organic” as it is known by the US government was first codified in 1990, and the latest standards for certification were developed in 2001.
USDA National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) definition, April 1995
“Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony….The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals and people.”
Since the original USDA definition, the landscape of Organic farming and how it relates to local and sustainable practices has changed.
As most of us would agree, the US government struggles to get much of anything done, let alone do it right. The above definition is well intentioned, and I believe that we can all agree that those are sound values to live by and to strive towards. The problem with “Organic” is that it doesn’t mean your food is necessarily any healthier or safer than conventional food. The current standards have been developed to stretch the original definition as far as possible to benefit corporations and industrial agriculture
and get enough politicians in those government offices to agree in order for the standards to be acceptable.
I believe that we should ask more than to have a label on our food. In fact I believe that the label makes it harder to see the truth about what we are eating. This is one of the greatest reasons why LOCAL food is so important.
When we buy local, we not only have the chance to support our local economy, keep money close to home, invest in an enterprise that increases our local quality of life, but we also have the opportunity to engage with the people that produce our food. We can ask them questions, which are too important and potentially complicated to put on any sticker. We also have the privilege of establishing a sense of trust in our food and the people who produce it, something that I believe is essential to empowering us to make responsible food choices and to engage in our diets in a way that is both healthful and satisfying.
On that note here are a few facts about Harmony FarmÂ’s agricultural practices.
Harmony Farm practices organic methods of farming. No synthetic chemicals are used in the production of your vegetables. No genetically modified crops will ever be grown by Harmony Farm. All fertilizers are from natural sources.
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Moses ignoring a carrot.

Moses ignoring a carrot.

Harmony FarmÂ’s soil is loaded with micronutrients, which means that your veggies are also loaded with micronutrients (itÂ’s like eating multivitamins at every meal).
All insecticides and pesticides used are derived from naturally occurring sources, are naturally broken down (mostly by sunlight), and are safe for people. Even organically approved pesticides will be used as little as possible, as I believe that balance and a healthy farm cannot be achieved through the use of these substances.
I believe that health comes from the ground up, from building healthy soil, and that in focusing on this as a means to healthful food, it will benefit the plant and also those who eat the plants.
Enjoy the veggies! Farmer Sky

CSA pick-list
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Broccoli! – Th e last of spring. Enjoy! Lacinato Kale – Lovely pan fried, cut into thin ribbons
Mustard Greens- Great sauteed, chopped into a salad, or raw as a refreshing snack.
Turnips- Great addition to soups, to salad, or roasted.
Salad Mix- Enjoy!
Green Onions – Excellent addition to almost any dish.
Cilantro – Zesty herb popular in Mexican, Thai, Indian, Chinese, and Caribbean cuisine. `

Glowing cabbage orb

Glowing cabbage orb

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