Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fire--Resource, Rebirth, and Responsibility

I tend to shy away from using this blog as a journal---however several "forces" (the snow storm forcing me indoors, an undeniable theme that emerged last weekend, and need for a little seasonal hope)--made reflection and record to hard to resist. The theme was that of FIRE--and what it comes to symbolize. Please bare with this rather long and circuitous posting.

I spent December 12th at the Phoenixville Firebird Festival enjoying the burning of the bird and a now traditional after gathering with farm friends and family. The after gathering included an impromptu Hanukkah celebration, the lighting of the second candle. I had spent that morning reading some interesting takes on Hanukkah in light of global climate change and the Copenhagen summit.

December 12 also marked a worldwide candle light vigil organized by to inspire leaders to take action at the Climate Change summit. I will not get on my soap box (for now), but as a farmer whose livelihood is dependant on the weather--I cannot stress enough the importance of climate change action. I encourage you to explore, it is an amazing resource with an amazing staff that includes the daughter of a CSA member. is an international campaign dedicated to building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis--the solutions that science and justice demand.

Our mission is to inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis—to create a new sense of urgency and of possibility for our planet.

Our focus is on the number 350--as in parts per million, the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. But 350 is more than a number--it's a symbol of where we need to head as a planet.

To tackle climate change we need to move quickly, and we need to act in unison—and 2009 will be an absolutely crucial year. This December, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark to craft a new global treaty on cutting emissions. The problem is, the treaty currently on the table doesn't meet the severity of the climate crisis—it doesn't pass the 350 test.

Needless to say the Copenhagen summit turned out to be a disappointment and more than a little disheartening--yet another reason to inspire journaling. What can be taken away from the summit however, is the amazing resolve of grassroots organizations from around the world that rallied through vigils, protest, and negotiation. Watch a video of the "real deal" and flickr photos of the thousands of vigils around the world

On December 13th I had the good fortune of attending a benefit for my favorite Philly music venue/dive bar The Fire-- do you see the theme emerging, kind of crazy, right? The Fire has run on some hardtimes of late, and has had to close while it deals with these issues. This venue is near and dear to my heart because it serves host to the myriad of talented local musicians who seem always eager to lend their support to local farm events--playing at farmers markets, fundraisers, farm tours etc... In fact the line up at the benefit that night included folks you might recognize from the kennett farmers market, the kennett flash, concerts at anson b nixon park, and/or the Kimberton Hootenanny-- Cowmuddy, Chris Kasper, Adrien Reju, The Great Unknown, Sean Hoots (hoots and hellmouth), Birdie Busch, and Hezekiah Jones (most of these artists have fantastic new albums out this year--great last minute Christmas gifts). Like the climate change activists, these musicians serve as a great inspiration. They took responsibility for the Fire--doing what they could to remedy a challenging problem. They recognized the true value of the Fire, not just as a venue, but a place to find community, to make friends, to better their craft, and important outlet for their creativity.

So in this season full of festivals of light and fire, my hope is that light will also inspire responsibility--a responsibility to the things in life that we share, the greater good, the places, the climate, and resources we need to survive and floursh, what is necessary to truly be at home. I end with a video of Hezekiah Jones from the aforementioned Fire benefit. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Turkeys, Hens, and Firebirds!

I feel like I have posting about birds a lot lately. I guess chickens and turkeys are not what normally comes to mind with the word bird, however, I have to say that I find just as much enjoyment watching the turkeys and hens forage through the pasture together (see picture), as watching the starlings or the pileated woodpeckers I have mentioned in previous postings.

Speaking of turkeys, I want to give you a heads up that we will be offering turkeys for Christmas holiday--if you are interested in reserving a turkey for your Christmas celebration click here to find out how you can contact the farm directly. I mention the Christmas holiday simply because that is the week they will be processed. You are certainly welcome to freeze your turkey and use it at some later time.

As I have mentioned before, we have a new batch of hens that have just started laying. Normally hens slow down their laying this time of year. Their egg production is very much influenced by daylight. So we are delighted to be able to offer these slightly smaller but just as delicious eggs for $4.00 a dozen (or 2 for $7.00). The eggs are located in the refrigerator in the distribution shed. Take advantage of these great eggs while they last. Click here for a great resource that Mother Earth News has put together about the virtues of pastured eggs.

Finally I wanted to share a link to one of my favorite celebrations of the season, Phoenixville's annual Firebird Festival. Along with the burning of huge wooden Phoenix, just beautiful and exciting to watch, the festival includes a range of activities through out the town, appropriate for folks of all ages. And while you are up in the general area you might want to check out an open house at Yellow Springs Native Plant farm featuring their brand new goat cheese operation. Turkeys, eggs, goat cheese, and winter festivals--what more could one want.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hello Starling

They finally cut the corn in the field across from the house and yesterday morning I awoke to a strange "whoosh" and avian cackle--the field was now filled with blackbirds and starlings. The black of the birds and the gray of both the sky and the leafless woodlot background, set off the golden hues in the corn stubble and the rich green of the still lush grass--it was just breath taking.The energy embodied in the flock of birds that can go from chaotic to organized and flowing in an instant was just as amazing.
Blackbirds and starlings remind me of one of my favorite albums Hello Starling by folk-rocker Josh Ritter. The album is rich with allusions to birds,flying, wings--and includes the bright and cheery "Snow is Gone" with its chorus--hello blackbird hello starling winter's over be my darling. Ironically, as the flock of blackbirds left the field it suddenly started to snow. I came inside to try and find a youtube video of "Snow is Gone" but instead found a wonderful NPR collaboration between Josh Ritter and classical violinist Hillary Hahn--the resulting musical experience seemed much more appropriate to the new winter weather.

So I leave you with Mary Oliver's beautiful poem "Starlings in Winter," enjoy the snow and the starlings.

Starlings in Winter

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

~ Mary Oliver ~

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Fan of Food History

I love reading about food history, hence the plug for Full Moon Feast in the previous post. This time of year is particularly rich with all the traditions surrounding the myriad of December/Winter Solstice holidays. I just discovered an interesting blog by Aussie Janet Clarkson The Old Foodie. Janet has written a book on the history of pies and also contributed a piece to a book about eating humans, yes that's right, there is a book on cannibal cooking traditions. A little less grusome, and much more appropriate for the upcoming holiday season is her collection of vintage Christmas recipes. For a food history/culture blog not so tied to the British Commonwealth check out Gherkins and Tomatoes by Virginian Cynthia Bertelsen. Click here to read her take on turkey soup--just in case you still have a little turkey left over. Enjoy the historical inspiration.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bird and Blog Watching

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend an Ag Issues Forum which I will report on in a future blog posting. At the meeting I ran into CSA member and Longwood Gardens employee Tom Brightman, who alerted me to Longwood Garden's fantastic blog, in particular his posting about a pair of pileated woodpecker's and their nest at Longwood. The timing could not have been better, since I had just been watching a pileated woodpecker here at the farm. I first heard its distinctive sound (the inspiration for woody the woodpecker) and then watched it going to work on a dead branch in the tree line on the way up our hill. Anyway, thought you would enjoy this amazing bird and this amazing blog--the perfect pass time for the winter months.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Winter Moon Spring Greens

The beautiful full moon tonight, the "winter moon" seems a most fitting start for December and reminded me of one of my favorite readings last winter--the "cookbook" Full Moon Feast. A great read with lots of food history and a few recipes linked to the full moon cycle, the book is full of interesting cultural and nutritional connections--I definitely recommend it.

With today's cold crisp frosty morning, it seems all the more probable that winter is around the corner. Luckily for the greens still hanging on in the garden, the bright sunshine quickly melted away the frost, giving way to a sweet tenderness rivalled only in the early spring. Because this could be the last week the tender greens continue to survive, I will make greens available for purchase in the distribution shed for the remainder of the week--December 4-6th. You are welcome to come anytime from dawn to dusk to purchase greens (arugula, asian/braising mix, lettuce, as well as radishes and turnips). We also suddenly have a bunch of eggs. Our newest batch of hens have just started laying. The eggs are smaller, so we are running an egg "sale"--- $4 a dozen or 2 dozen for $7.00. What a perfect way to take a break from the indulgences of the holidays -- lighter meals of eggs and greens. Click here for a shirred egg recipe and click here for a Fresh Salmon Croque recipe, although I would substitute the swiss chard with the asian greens/braising mix. The mustards in the asian greens/braising mix pair very well with salmon. Enjoy a little taste of spring this first week of December.

Friday, November 27, 2009

With Gratitude and the Pursuit of Happiness....

This amazing NYT "opinion" piece was sent to me by a friend this morning. The perfect concept to think about on the day after Thanksgiving, the day we are suppose to switch from gratitude to fast paced consumptive madness. Personally I prefer to extend the celebration of food, family, and harvest --- enjoying a second and third meal of turkey and the delicious sides, as well as the friends and family that gather for this special holiday. For some great recipe ideas using up the turkey left overs check out Dawn Warden's mainline blog Bocconcini. Speaking of turkey and gratitude, thanks to all of you who purchased a pasture raised turkey from Inverbrook or some other local farm--a true pursuit of happiness.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Turkey Time!

Early this morning we gathered up the turkeys and took them to the processor so they will be ready for pick up at the farm later on today. If you have pre-ordered your turkey from Inverbrook (pre-orders only) you have several options for pick up:

1. From 3-6PM in the kitchen of the large stone house, the last house before the barn. If you are coming down the paved tree lined driveway (the one with the Inverbrook Farm sign at the end of it, you simple follow the paved part--it will curve around to the right and take you past the door to the kitchen.

2. If you are picking up an order from lancaster farm fresh and/or want to purchase greens from the farm you can drive up to the distribution shed. YOU MUST LET ME KNOW SO I CAN PUT YOUR TURKEY IN THE REFRIGERATOR UP IN THE DISTRIBUTION SHED. You can pick up turkeys from 3-6PM today or basically all day tomorrow. This will be a self serve process, that is why I need to know ahead of time.

3. Finally you can pick up your turkey in the same location at option 1 but on Wednesday from 10AM-2PM.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to call 610-563-3116 or e-mail

If you are looking for cooking guidance Fine Cooking is a great source of video instruction and recipe ideas. For some tips about the nuance to cooking a pasture raised turkey click here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An Admirer of Arugula

The little bit of warmth and recent sunshine has added longevity to the fall season greens (available at the farm on Tuesdays 8:30AM till dark, along with Lancaster Farm Fresh 4 Season Harvest drop off ), so I have been enjoying one of my personal favorites this time of year--Arugula. The wet cool weather tempers arugula's heat potential, and the resulting nutty, slightly hot, complex flavor pairs perfectly with sweet fall fruit like apples, pears, cranberries and my personal favorite asian pears. In fact I am going to make an asian pear/pine nut/arugula salad for the Kennett Farmers Market community potluck--I just have to decide on a cheese-shaved parmesan, chevre, blue cheese crumbled on top--the combinations are limitless.

Speaking of the combo of arugula,fruit and cheese click here for a great Brie, apple, arugula sandwhich recipe.

On the last day of the famers market Martha Pisano (of Highland Sheep Cheese fame) and I had a conversation about cooking chip steak and serving it over a bed of arugula, the warm meat slightly wilting the greens, yum. This reminded me of one of my favorite arugula recipes that my sister brought back from some trendy restaurant in NYC, basically it was flank steak cooked in a balsamic and shallot reduction. I could not find the exact recipe, but this is close. I suggest adding shallots to the vinaigrette using grass-fed beef to make it all the more flavorful. Enjoy!

Flank Steak and Arugula With Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette
The Washington Post, August 10, 2005

Flank steak is usually marinated, then broiled or grilled. This quick version dispenses with a marinade and cooks the meat in a skillet. Making it that way creates pan juices, which are deglazed with balsamic vinaigrette, pulling the dish together. Serve on a bed of peppery arugula and top with curls of Parmesan cheese.

Leftovers are great the next day on a crusty roll with a touch of mayonnaise (keep the vinaigrette separate until lunchtime to keep the roll from becoming soggy).

4 to 6 servings


• 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 1/2 pounds flank steak
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 12 ounces arugula leaves, tough stems discarded, washed and torn into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups)
• (4 to 6 ounces) A large chunk of Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, tilting the pan to coat the bottom with oil. Season the steak with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Place meat in the skillet and cook until the underside is well browned, adjusting the heat as needed to keep the meat from burning, about 6 minutes. Turn and cook until the other side is browned, about 6 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer to a carving board to rest while making the vinaigrette. Set the skillet aside.

To make the vinaigrette, whisk the vinegar and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup oil. Return the skillet to high heat, pour in the vinaigrette, and scrape up any browned bits in the skillet with a wooden spatula (don't let the vinaigrette reduce). Remove from the heat.

Divide the arugula among individual plates. Holding the knife at a 45-degree angle, slice the steak across the grain into thin slices. Place overlapping slices of the steak over the arugula. Whisk any meat juices into the vinaigrette, and spoon the vinaigrette over the steak and arugula.

Using a vegetable peeler, shave a generous amount of Parmesan cheese onto the meat and greens. Serve immediately.

Recipe Source:
Adapted from "The Carefree Cook," by Rick Rodgers (Broadway Books, 2003).

370 calories, 28g fat, 6g saturated fat, 44mg cholesterol, 278mg sodium, 4g carbohydrates, 1g dietary fiber, n/a sugar, 25g protein.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Blues and Greens of Community Action

This post is about two very different ways you can participate in important community action to strengthen and protect our vibrant local food system. I will start with the more social of the two, even though this event is slightly less urgent. The Kennett Square Farmers Market is teaming up with the Kennett Flash's monday night Blues Jam to present a community potluck and yes, electric blues jam. For more information about this event check out the posting on the Kennett Square Farmers Market blog. Last year the potluck was actually at the farm, and the food and crowd were just amazing. I am sure the mix of music and Kennett spirit will produce an even more magical evening. Hope you can make it out next Monday November 23rd, 6:30PM (music starts at 8PM).

The second action requires immediate attention and is all about the up coming Food Safety Legislation. Although I whole heartedly support legislation that protects the health and safety of the consumer, there are parts of this bill that could have a very negative impact on my operation, in particular the rules and regulations regarding the selling of greens. I have written about the impact of these regulations in earlier posts and I encourage you to educate yourself about this important legislation and the potential impact it could have on small farms like Inverbrook. For more information on the Senate Food Safety bill, please see National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's Talking Points.

Below I have included a letter from Brian Snyder executive director of The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, followed by a step by step action plan. My hope is that you will find the time to make yourself heard--the future of my greens depends on it.

Dear PASA-folk,

Okay, we knew this was coming and here it is, perhaps pushed ahead on the schedule by a delay in healthcare legislation. This summer we dealt with the House of Representatives on food safety and experienced some success. Now it’s the Senate’s turn.

This Wednesday the Senate HELP Committee (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) will begin active debate on S. 510, a bill that differs in many respects but shares the same basic objectives as HR. 2749, which passed the House at the end of July. Rather than go on at length about what needs to change in the current bill, please read the alert below my signature as sent out this morning by NSAC (the National Sustainable Ag Coalition), our partners in tracking this issue all year long.

As you can see, NSAC has identified Senator Casey as a key figure in this debate. Senator Casey is important not only as a member of HELP, but also by his participation on the Senate Ag Committee. In addition to the concerns listed below – and others you may have – I’d also like you to ask Senator Casey and/or his staff to confer with PASA on food safety matters before he participates in the HELP markup process next week.

For your information, I will be in Washington D.C. on Monday and Tuesday of next week and will be meeting with key people involved in this debate (hopefully including Senator Casey or his staff). The phone number and other relevant information can be found below.

Thanks again for your ever-present support at times like this…

Brian Snyder



The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will take up S. 510, the Senate version of major food safety legislation already approved by the House of Representatives, next Wednesday, November 18.

The bill would put real teeth into federal regulation of large-scale food processing corporations to better protect consumers. However, the bill as written is also a serious threat to family farm value added processing, local and regional food systems, conservation and wildlife protection, and organic farming.

We need a food safety bill that cracks down on corporate bad actors without erecting new barriers to the growing healthy food movement based on small and mid-sized family farms, sustainable and organic production methods, and more local and regional food sourcing.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the National Organic Coalition, have fashioned five common sense amendments to S 510. We need your help to make them happen! The House has already passed their Bill. This is our last best chance to affect the final legislation.

Step 1: Make a Call

Please Call Senator Casey's office at (202) 224-6324 and ask for the aide in charge of food safety issues. Tell them you are a constituent and are calling to ask the Senator to support the amendments proposed by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the National Organic Coalition to the Food Safety Modernization Act. Specifically, ask your Senator to support the following key changes to the bill:

The bill should direct FDA to narrow the kinds of value-added farm processing activities which are subject to FDA control and to base those regulations on sound risk analysis. (Current FDA rules assume without any scientific evidence that all farms which undertake any one of a long list of processing activities should be regulated.)

The bill should direct FDA to ease compliance for organic farmers by integrating the FDA standards with the organic certification rules. FDA compliance should not jeopardize a farmer's ability to be organically certified under USDA's National Organic Program.

The bill must provide small and mid-sized family farms that market value-added farm products with training and technical assistance in developing food safety plans for their farms.

The bill should insist that FDA food safety standards and guidance will not contradict federal conservation, environmental, and wildlife standards and practices, and not force the farmer to choose which federal agency to obey and which to reject.

Farmers who sell directly to consumers should not be required to keep records and be part of a federal "traceaback" system, and all other farms should not be required to maintain records electronically or any records beyond the first point of sale past the farmgate.

Step 2: Report Your Call
Let us know how your Senator responded by clicking here and typing in a brief report.

Step 3: Learn More (see link above to NSAC taking points)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Plan a Local Thanksgiving

Over the next couple of weeks I encourage you to keep checking up on both the Inverbrook Farm Blog and the Kennett Square Farmers Market Blog which will be filled with tips, recipes, and more about making your Thanksgiving meal a true celebration of our local bounty. It makes sense to start with the focal point of the traditional meal--the Turkey. We are proud to offer own Inverbrook pastured raise turkeys (see pictures).

Unfortunately most of our large turkeys are spoken for, we do however have a handful of smaller turkeys yet unclaimed--probably in the 9-12lb range. The size our of turkeys is always a guess, and quite frankly, providing the focal point of your very special holiday meal gives me a bit of an ulcer. Our type of small scale natural farming lets nature dictate size, so as long as you can be flexible with the size of your turkey, we are happy to provide the very special bird. Our turkeys sell for $3.20 a pound and will be available the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. You can place an order request by e-mail After you place an order I will follow up with pick up details. The wonderful weblog CCDwell recently posted a feature on sourcing local turkeys--so if you want a bigger bird or go all out a get a heritage breed--the have all local sources listed.

Turkeys are also available through the Lancaster Farm Fresh Buy Coop we will be hosting here at Inverbrook. To read more about the wonderful local organic coop click here to read an article that appeared in Grid magazine. To find out more about signing up for the 4 Season Harvest please read the previous post.

Yesterday's New York Times Food and Dining section featured a debate about what people like better-- the turkey or the sides. Perhaps the pictures I have included in the post will not do much to swing the debate towards the turkey. Although the turkey might not win in the looks department, our humanely raised poultry certainly tastes good, and you can be rest assured have a happy life until the end. Click here for the link to their dining blog about the subject. Besides the debate, this week's food and dining section featured some great recipes including this one for Dry-Brined Turkey, enjoy!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Happy to Host Four Season Harvest through Lancaster Farm Fresh

Inverbrook Farm is happy to announce that it will be hosting (serving as a drop off site) Lancaster Farm Fresh's - a local farmer run organic growers cooperative -- 4 Season Harvest Program. The drop off will begin Tuesday, November 17th and continue through at least the week of Christmas every Tuesday. Pick up will be possible every Tuesday from 8:30AM-5:30PM from the Farm.

This is a new collaborative project for both Inverbrook and Lancaster Farm Fresh--so please bare with us as we work out the potential kinks of drop off, ordering and distribution. Like joining Inverbrook CSA, you will be guaranteed farm fresh produce of the highest possible quality and the added bonus of supporting and strengthening our local food system through this creative and collaborative food distribution model. Lancaster Farm Fresh actually shares warehouse space with Kimberton Whole Foods, which allows LFF to offer some of Kimberton Whole Foods specialty items like their house brand of coffee. I will also make Inverbrook Farm products like frozen pastured poultry, eggs, and, depending on the weather, field greens like lettuce, arugula, and asian mix available for purchase. You will not need to pre-order these items--they will be available on a first come first serve basis in the distribution shed.

To sign up for the 4 Season Harvest click here. If you have any further questions feel free to contact me

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another Sunchoke Recipe

Hi Folks, just in case you still have a few sunchokes rolling around in your refrigerator, I thought you might enjoy this recent recipe from one of my favorite food blogs Chocolate and Zucchini.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Final Share--Roots for Roasting

All the root vegetables in this final share lend themselves well to roasting. Click here for Roasted Medley of Winter Roots-- you could replace the parsnips with either daikon radish or sweet potatoes. Roasted root vegetables are the perfect compliment to roast chicken--also available at the farm.
Click here to read CCDwell's blog post about roasting up one our chickens.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This Week's Share--Sunchokes and the World Series

I apologize for the late posting but the beautiful weather and this baseball watching has been a bit of a distraction, not to mention much shorter days. Anyway, way to go Phillies!!!! Maybe its all those organic vegetables they have been eating, click here to watch MVP Ryan Howard's visit to the White House Garden.

This week's share includes a tuber you might not be familiar with--the sunchoke, otherwise known as the jerusalem artichoke. Click here to read a great blog posting on this curious little carbohydrate, just a warning sunchokes have the unfortunately side effect of making one a little gaseous. From the website eat the seasons the low down on Sunchokes:

Sunchoke (Jersualem artichoke) look a bit like a knobbly pink-skinned ginger root and have a sweet, nutty flavor, reminiscent of water chestnuts. Although not widely used (perhaps because of its awkward appearance or anti-social effects - see NUTRITION), they are an inexpensive and versatile food that can be used both raw and cooked and make a delicious soup.

The sunchoke is native to North America. The French explorer Samuel de Champlain introduced them to Europe after coming across them at Cape Cod in 1605.

The sunchoke plant (Helianthus tuberosus) is related to the sunflower and produces edible tubers. It is hardy and grows readily in cold climates.

Sunchokes are very rich in inulin, a carbohydrate linked with good intestinal health due to its prebiotic (bacteria promoting) properties. These health benefits come at a price; the food can have a potent wind-producing effect.

Sunchokes also contain vitamin C, phosphorus and potassium and are a very good source of iron.

Roots should be free from soft spots, wrinkles or sprouting. Knobbles and uneveness are unavoidable (and not indicative of quality), but smoother, rounder artichokes are easier to prepare.

Sunchokes will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.

Like potatoes, sunchoke can be served with or without the skin - scrub clean and leave it on for maximum nutritional benefit.

Cook as you would potatoes - roast, sauté, bake, boil or steam. If peeling or cutting, drop pieces into water with a squeeze of lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Unlike potatoes, sunchokes can also be used raw (e.g. in salads) or lightly stir-fried.

Sunchokes are used in the industrial production of fructose, which is derived from the inulin content of the vegetable. Click here for a fingerling and sunchoke warm salad, yum!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Adventures in Fermentation

Wow, what a difference a week can make. Its hard to believe that last weekend I was enjoying the warm weather, basking in the rosy glow of fall sunshine and the ferments featured at both the Kennett Brew Fest and the Fermentation Festival. Inspired by the buzz of community surrounding the fermentation extravaganza that took place in Kennett Square last weekend(click here to see lots of wonderful pictures of the fermentation festival), I have spent these past few rainy days experimenting with the fermentation process here at the farm. I turned the left over CSA share produce into sauerkraut and kimchi. I am hardening cider (glenn willow sells unpasteurized cider if you are interested) and have started my own ginger bug (to mix with new favorite Root). With the exception of the rather strong sulfurous odor that escapes from the newly capped jars of kimchi and sauerkraut each time a check the fizzy brew of cabbage, radish, ginger, and daikon--its been a fun process. The "cultivation" of good bacteria and fungus in the process of making these very live and delicious foods is the perfect indoor activity for one who likes to be doing the very same thing in the garden soil. A most appropriate rainy day activity for a farmer.

So what's the big deal about fermented food? I think both the cultural and health benefits are summed up quite well on the website of Zukay Live Foods, a participant and sponsor of the Fermentation Festival. Fermenting food has long been a way to both preserve food and make the nutrients more readily available to the body. My field guides to the fermentation process have been both Sallon Fallon's Nourishing Traditions and the essential Wild Fermentation by fermentation guru Sandor Katz (both of these great books are available at Harvest Market Natural Foods in Hockessin, a co-sponsor of the Fermentation Festival). Wild Fermentation is also a great website, if you are interested in fermentation its is an amazing resource. To quote Sandor from the intro to his book "This book is my song of praise and devotion to fermentation. For me, fermentation is a health regimen, a gourmet art, a multicultural adventure, a form of activism, and a spiritual path, all rolled into one."

So I too have been singing the praises of fermented food--imagine a life without beer, wine, cheese, cured meats, bread, yogurt, and yes sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi--and beyond these essentials to our diet and health, what has been become very apparent in this fermentation journey of mine--is the connection between the culture of foods and culture of community. As I said before I am still basking in the buzz and bubble of this new group of enthusiastic fermenters and their contribution to our community, a process that is already making me healthier, happier, and ready for the winter.

Read all about the amazing community in the links below:

Recap of the Fermentation Festival from Flow of Love blog and Earth Mama blog

Great article from CCDwell along with a Fermented Carrot Recipe.

Pickle recipe from the Farmers' Daughter

Finally a very interesting article(and some good recipes) about the "economics" of fermentation.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Soups On--Start with a Fresh Chicken

With this cold and rainy weather, nothing could be better than a nice bowl of homemade soup. Lucky for you all, fresh chickens will be available this weekend--Saturday and Sunday from 9AM-6PM in the distribution shed (feel free to e-mail if you need further instructions). CSA members will be able to pick up chickens next week, but are welcome to stop by this weekend. After roasting your chicken for the first great meal, you can use the left overs as a base for delicious tasting stock, or click here to read author of the Grass Fed Gourmet, Shannon Hayes' essay on getting the most out of one chicken. Really one of my most favorite attributes of our pasture-raised chickens is the incredibly delicious stock they make. Trust me any chicken stock based soup you than make will be a hit. See links below for two great stock recipes.

Sally Fallon's Nourishing Tradition article on broth

Gourmet Magazine's simple chicken broth recipe

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This Week's Share-The Daikon Radish

The long white icicle shaped radish present in your share this week might be a new vegetable for you. Also know as Oriental radish, some form of daikon, either cooked, raw or pickled is an integral part in Asain cooking. Below is an excerpt taken from the Rolling Prairie Cookbook by Nancy O'Connor.

Handling: Daikon radishes are not as hardy as you might think. They lose their moisture over time and can become limp--store them in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic, especially if you want to use them raw and crisp. If you'll be cooking your radishes you can store daikon for up to a week.

Simple Preparation: A simple scrubbing is enough for daikon radishes. Unless they are extremely large or a little more mature, the skin is thin and tender and doesn't require peeling. If you're going to use your radish raw in a salad or as a condiment, just grate and toss with oil and vinegar, salt, and a touch of sweetener, and other veggies if you'd like. Daikon slices can be sauteed in a bit of oil and lightly seasoned with salt and fresh herbs. Cooking disarms daikon's slight bite, creating a dish with a taste like mild turnips.

Here's an attractive relish that's easy to make. Enjoy the simplicity of the white, green (or purple), and red veggies in the fresh and light condiment. Create a rich and creamy taste with the addition of lowfat yogurt or light sour cream--delicious served with Indian cuisine or to embellish a meal of beans and rice.

Daikon Relish
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped green or purple bell pepper
1/2 cup coarsely grated daikon radish
1/4 teaspoon of salt
cayenne pepper to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup lowfat yogurt or light sour cream (optional)

Combine all ingredients. Allow flavors to blend for several hours in the refrigerator before serving. Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups.

And for a more traditional Daikon recipe click here--a good use of the other regular radishes also included in this week's share.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A sense of place-recent blog postings

Sometimes I spend way too long searching the internet for recipe inspirations, photos, and folklore about the produce I feature in a particular week's share. Well I have yet to find the perfect daikon radish link, however I found this wonderful posting on about Apples and a sense of place. I love the sentiment, and as a farmer so enjoy the opportunity to explore a deeper connection to history, culture, and what it means to create community, not to mention the fact that I am a total sucker for any Wendell Berry reference, also one of my life's inspirations, my person guru so to speak.

Speaking of a sense of place, check out Happy Cat's lastest posting (I will add a little warning about Punk Rock Farmer's language, not for the young or sensitive reader). Nothing like foraging for your seed source!

The Apple Tree
by Wendell Berry for Ann and Dick O’Hanlon

In the essential prose
of things, the apple tree
stands up, emphatic
among the accidents
of the afternoon, solvent,
not to be denied.
The grass has been cut
down, carefully
to leave the orange
poppies still in bloom;
the tree stands up
in the odor of the grass
drying. The forked
trunk and branches are
also a kind of necessary
prose—shingled with leaves,
pigment and song
imposed on the blunt
lineaments of fact, a foliage
of small birds among them.
The tree lifts itself up
in the garden, the
clutter of its green
leaves halving the light,
stating the unalterable
congruity and form
of its casual growth;
the crimson finches appear
and disappear, singing
among the design.

Backyard Chicken Workshop

Backyard Chickens!

Wednesday, Oct. 21st 6-7:15pm
Willows Cottage
490 Darby-Paoli Rd. Wayne, PA 19087

Presented by Amy Johnson, Greener Partners with
The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA)

Have you wanted to raise chickens but not sure how or where to start? Come learn the wonderful benefits of keeping a small-scale backyard chicken coop for your all-natural fresh egg supply throughout the year! Join us for an informative talk about how fun and simple it is for the whole family to raise chickens in your own backyard. Workshop will include slide show, coop designs, breed selection and chicken care basics.

Amy Johnson and Chris McNichol have raised backyard chickens on their own urban homestead for over 5 years in the Borough of Media.

Payment of $10 for PASA members and $15 for all others is due Oct. 16th.

Please mail check payable to PASA, 737 Constitution Dr. Exton, PA 19341.

RSVP by 10/16 to Kendra: /610-458-5700 x317.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fermentation Festival this Friday

As I mentioned in the last post, I am very excited for the First Annual East Coast Fermentation Festival, taking place during the Kennett Square Farmers Market this Friday, October 9th from 2-6PM (rain or shine). The festival will be composed of two areas of special displays, tastings, and information along with all the great regular and first Friday market vendors. The first area of note--is the "Drinkable Garden" located between the parking garage and the entrance to the Genesis Health Ventures. For a mere $3 (and an id proving you are 21 years of age or older) you will be able to sample from a great line up of local beer, wine and spirits-- including Victory, Twin Lakes, Stargazers Winery, and the extremely interesting and fairly new Root (and root beer tasting liquor). Also in the area will be tastings from Talulas and a fun interactive display from Rolling Barrel events.

Moving down the side walk you will be able to enjoy the music of Hezekiah Jones from 3-4PM and then Spinning Leaves from 5-6PM located directly across from the Genesis Health Ventures entrance.

The remainder of alley and then all of State Street will be filled with regular farmers market vendors, the perfect place to stock up on fall treats like pumpkins, apples, cabbage, some of which you might be inspired to ferment--perhaps your own hard cider brew or the perfect sauerkraut for an octoberfest celebration.

The final area of note will be located across the street in the area between Newtons and Bedbugzz--the extension of the brick alley way we have appropriately named "Fermentation Alley". This area will be filled demonstrations, tastings, and the opportunity to learn more about home fermentation with on hand experts from Harvest Market Natural Foods, April Coburn Herbwyfe, Zukay live foods, and Home Sweet Home Brew. We will even have ceramic mug makers Tom Hitner and Lyla Kaplan on hand to provide the perfect receptacle for your homemade brew. So bring your check book and your questions and get ready to learn everything there is to know about the magical, delicious, and healthful world of fermentation.

For a listing of the demonstration schedule stay tuned to the Farmers Market Blog.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fall Events--A celebration of the season's bounty

Happy October everyone! The month of October ushers in a myriad of fall harvest celebrations including the Unionville Community Fair, Chadds Ford Days, and the Kennett Brew Fest. Before the month gets away from me, I want to take this time to highlight some events that you might not be familiar with.

The first is the Camphill Village Kimberton Hills Hoedown. Organized by a good friend--this family friendly event starts at 3PM and includes great music, food, and people, all in an breathtakingly bucolic setting. For a complete line up click here.

For those looking to continue the spirit of farm fresh food and bucolic settings this year's PASA Harvest Dinner will take place at Longwood Gardens on Saturday, October 10th. If the fundraising dinner is a too little rich for your blood (although I cannot say enough about the good work of pasa), check out the Guided Walk of Sustainable Longwood on that same Saturday afternoon. Get a behind the scenes tour from CSA member and longwood employee Tom Brightman!

If you are feeling very gourmet and very generous, Historic Kennett Square is hosting its Enchanted Evening on Friday, October 9th at 7PM in the Genesis Health Ventures Building. It too is for a great cause--Historic Kennett Square is the fiscal agent for the farmers market and includes food from Talula's Table, local beer, not so local wine, and the music of local favorites the Sin City Band.

Last, but certainly not least is the Kennett Square Fermentation Festival also happening Friday, October 9th at the Kennett Square Farmers Market. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this informative festival--I am a big fan of fermentation--from beer to sauerkraut, from kombucha to cheese--its a magical and healthful process that I will blogging about next stay tuned. In the meantime clear your friday, october 9th, we have been working hard to put together a great afternoon of events. The perfect way to celebrate the Fall!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Farm Workers in the NY Times!!!

I thought you might be interested in this article appearing in the sunday times. On slide number 9 you can see the lovely and talented Carroll Anderson, one of the amazing young women who helped harvest your vegetables this summer. Carroll is a total rock star when it comes to lettuce picking. Besides working for Inverbrook and Northcreek Nursery, Carroll also makes amazing feather earrings and handmade paper journals. Such talent, I am truly blessed with an amazing crew.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

This Week's Share--Happy Fall!

Happy autumnal equinox! The weather is certainly doing its part to usher in the next season, and consquently the garden is doing its party to fit in with the seasonal change by winding down (it actually feels like its ending a little too quickly). This week's share marks the last of the beans, and the transition from summer to fall crops. It certainly has been a challenging season, I will post more on that later. In the meantime enjoy this week's share:

Green Beans
Salad Tomatoes
Summer Squash (mainly patti pan)
Sweet Peppers
Hot Peppers
and Pick your own Zinnias

Rutabagas might be a new crop for you. Click here to read a rutabaga and russet potato recipe.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This Week's Share-Garlic and Romano Beans

This week's share is very similar to last weeks, with the addition of garlic bulbs. This will be the last week for the fresh shelling beans and one of the last weeks for green beans. In honor of the green beans you have been getting I wanted to do a final push for the often picked over roma or romano bean (my grandmother's personal favorite, and she is not even Italian). See recipe below from the Boston Globe.

This Week's Share Includes:
A few teeny tiny tomatoes (more on the lack of tomatoes in a future post)
Green Beans
Fresh Shelling Beans
Summer Squash--mainly patti pans
Sweet Peppers
Hot Peppers
Fingerling Potatoes
Cut your own Zinnias

Garlic Romano Beans (from the boston globe)
Serves 4

Romano beans, if you don't already know them, are meatier than green beans, and a favorite among Italian cooks. As such, they're also known as Italian green beans, Italian string beans, Italian flat beans, and pole beans. They're flat and broad (about 1 inch wide), tender, and sweet. They're available through the end of September. To prepare the beans, trim them and cut them on a diagonal into bite-size pieces, then simmer them in boiling water to serve as a side dish. You can also leave them whole and roast them, which intensifies their flavor and produces slightly charred beans that are addictive. They'll become your new favorite snack.

1 pound romano beans, stem ends trimmed
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, broken in half
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Set oven at 450 degrees.

2. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the whole beans with the oil, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Spread the beans into a single layer.

3. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, or until the beans are tender and browned. Serve warm or at room temperature. Rachel Travers

© Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper Company.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mushroom Festival Weekend

In honor of the availability of chickens and the world famous Kennett Square Mushroom Festival, I thought you might appreciate this recipe for Chicken, Portabellas, and Polenta. One of natures only natural sources of Vitamin D the pride of Kennett Square has much to offer. Click here for a great primer on mushrooms and don't forget to check out the Festival this weekend in Kennett Square. On the way home from the festival you can stop by the farm (see post below) and buy a chicken.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fresh Chickens Available

Fresh chickens will be available starting Saturday morning in the refrigerator in the distribution shed. You are welcome to stop by and serve yourself to a fresh chicken Saturady, Sunday, and Monday anytime between 9AM-7PM. The chickens are being given a new feed, that is not certified organic, but does NOT contain any GMO seed/grain. Its an exciting move for us--so we actually will be able to lower the price of our chickens to about $3.20/lb (as opposed to $3.80). For those who prefer organic feed, we still have plenty of frozen chickens from flocks raised on organic grain. These chickens will be available in the freezer section of the refrigerator in the distributions shed. If you have any further question feel free to contact us through our website.

I have given you a link to this article before, but its a great step by step guide to delicious roast chicken. In honor of the popular new movie Julie & Julia I thought you might also enjoy this video. Bon Appetit!

Monday, September 7, 2009

This Week's Share--More Beans and Basil

Happy Labor Day! It certainly feels like the season has changed, there is definitely a feel of Fall in the air. Labor day is the perfect time to start thinking about freezing, canning, and other methods of preserving some of the items in your share. And perhaps there is no better way to bring a little summer to your winter meal than to add pesto. This week's share includes an abundance of basil just in case you would like to take the time to make some pesto--and one of my favorite cooking blogs has just the advice need for making pesto like an Italian grandmother.

Along with basil, this week's share includes green beans and fresh shelling beans. The fresh shelling beans include baby limas, edamame (this time taken off the stems, I realize how time consuming that process can be), and cannellini beans. Cannellini are the beans typically found in pasta e fagioli--a perfect soup for this time of the year. Enjoy your share.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A plug for Patti Pans

I apologize for not posting about the patti squash a little sooner. Its one of my most popular products at the kennett market, so I just assume everyone is familiar with the delicious sweet and slightly nutty taste of this odd shaped little summer squash. It actually took a recent recipe posting in one of my favorite blogs Chocolate and Zucchini to remind me to post about the patti pan. Perhaps you could substitute the cranberry beans for the chickpeas in the recipe featured--just a thought. Otherwise treat patti pans just like you would any other summer squash. The beautiful bright yellow skin is edible as long as the squash still have a slightly shiny appearance--otherwise you might want to peel. One note, patti pans do not store as well as other squash, so eat them up quick. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

This Week's Share--Shelling Beans and Melons

I love beans, all kinds of beans--so this week you will have your pick of green beans (a slightly smaller quantity), more edamame beans (the edible soybeans), and the beginning of a couple of weeks of different types of shelling beans. We will begin with the Cranberry or Horticultural Bean -- click here for a nice blog posting on crandberry beans from the Streaming Gourmet. For more info on shelling beans in general read this article from the San Francisco Chronicle. Good for you and good for the soil, enjoy your beans.

This week's share includes:
Green Beans
Edamame Beans (certain varieties also known as butterbeans)
Shelling Beans--cranberry/horticultural beans
Summer Squash
Melons--mainly watermelon and a few cantaloupe
Sweet Peppers
Hot Peppers

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

This Week's Share--More of the Same

This week's share is looking just like last week's with the exception of a "weed" that I am offering up--purslane. Purslane in actually packed with important nutrients and is one of the only vegetable sources of Omega-3. Click here to read more about purslane (or verdolaga as it is referred to in Mexico). Its slightly sour taste is a nice addition to salads that contain sweeter vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers. Click here for a salad recipe.

This Week's Share:
Summer Squash (on to a new planting of mainly patti pan and zephyr)
Sweet Peppers
Hot Peppers

Monday, August 17, 2009

Frying Peppers

Last week I noticed the sweet and fruity frying peppers have be picked over in the sweet pepper bin. This week I separated them out so you all can be sure to try this delicious variety. To read more about the special variety I am growing click here--Jimmy Nardello's. Here is another recipe fitting for these week's share that uses frying peppers, potatoes, and jalapenos

This week's share-Beans and Basil

This week's share marks the return of the beans--roma, provider, and of course the haricot vert--joining the greens beans is something new though--Edamame--the versatile edible soybean. Click here for the wiki how lesson on cooking Edamame.

This Week's Share:
Beans--haricot vert, roma, and provider
Baby Squash
Carrots and/or Baby Beets
Sweet Peppers
Frying Peppers
Hot Peppers

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Perfect Recipe for This Week's Share

I will be posting more about this week's share very soon--click here to read about a recipe featuring purple potatoes, haricot vert, mint, and new this week--edamame--the edible soybean.