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.