Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lancaster Farm Fresh--Four Season Harvest--Sign Up Now

One of the biggest criticisms of the local food movement is that it lacks efficiency, convenience, and a potentially smaller carbon footprint because of its unorganized and under developed distribution system. The argument is that a consumer actually wastes energy driving to various farms, farm stands, and farmers markets trying to "buy local." Another criticism is how to support local agriculture in the winter. One answer to these "problems" is the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative (LFF). Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative (LFFC) is a non profit organic farmers cooperative of 64 farmers in Lancaster County Pennsylvania. They focus on creating healthy high quality foods from highly maintained and enriched soils on their small scale family farms.

LFFC serves all of Eastern Pennsylvania, New York City, and most of the tri state area by connecting the farmer and customer, delivering the best local organic produce, value added products, and humanely raised and pastured animal products to retail establishments, co-ops, restaurants, and institutions. LFF runs a year round 4 Season Harvest buying club, and Inverbrook Farm serves as a drop off site. You can sign up on their website where you will encounter this message:

Building a sustainable food system starts on the farm and ends on your table. Both ends of the equation are equally important. We are dedicated to environmental stewardship, supporting local communities, and producing healthful food. We are also committed to bringing you the best food we can at fair, affordable prices. Sign up for 4 Season Harvest today and get the local products you want in one fell swoop. Shop online and receive weekly deliveries at a pick-up site in your neighborhood.

Our products include Seasonal Vegetables, Eggs, Milk, Butter, Cheese, Yogurt, Flour, Maple Syrup, Honey, Bison, Beef, Pork, Chicken, Goat Milk and Cheese, Gluten Free Baked Goods, Fair Trade Organic Coffee, Baby Food, Mushrooms, Apple Cider, and more.

The protocol for ordering is relatively simple. You sign up through the LFF website. They will send you a confirmation email which will then give you access to their inventory. You make your order on-line--you must do this before 4PM on Friday--then your order will be delivered to Inverbrook the following Tuesday. You will receive an email with your order total, and then you send a check payment into LFF headquaters. The LFF delivery usually arrives at the farm by mid-morning on Tuesdays--and then you come pick it up. I have been sending email reminders once your order arrives. Its that simple. Because LFF shares warehouse space with local health food store Kimberton Whole Foods, you as a consumer have access to a great diversity of product--including coffee. Its a wonderful example of collaboration and cooperation where the focus is on creating a heathly, sustainable, local food system with the acknowledgement that we obviously cannot grow everything in southeast Pennsylvania, but we can still do our best to make sure that the products we offer are from small family farms and that the enviromental impact of transportion is kept to a minimum.

To learn more about this wonderful food enterprise click here to read a profile on LFF Coop that appeared in a Spring 2009 issue of Grid Magazine.

One of the major forces behind the Lancaster Farm Fresh Coop is its general manager Casey Spatch. I am a big fan of Casey, not only do we share a common ethic when it comes to the elements of a local food system that are most important, Casey is also wealth of information when it comes to medicinal herbs and foraging. Casey and his partner Eli have started an Medicinal Herb CSA through Lancaster Farm Fresh known at Community Supported Medicine. If you are a fan of foraging and medicinal plants the Lancaster Farmacy blog is definitely worth checking out. As it turns out I am not the only one impressed (and I would say mildly obsessed) with Casey's amazing depth of knowledge--Lee Stabert, writer for GRID magazine, has featured Casey in several GRID magazine and blog postings. Check out the links below:

Foraging for Pawpaws and starting a fire while hunting for the fruit.

Part 1 and Part 2 of a hunt for Morel Mushrooms.

Posting on Casey's latest endeavor with partner Elizabeth Weaver--the Lancaster Farmacy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

PASA's Farming for the Future Conference- 20 Years of Food System Inspiration

As mid-January quickly approaches I am reminded that time is running out to register for the convivial, informational, and inspirational Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA)'s Farming for the Future Conference. As I have written before, there has been no more influential force in my farming career than PASA and its Farming for the Future Conference. For me it signifies the official start of the season--the place where my enthusiasm and energy for farming is renewed and reinvigorated--where the well-spring of passion, drive, and inspiration is refilled. This is a particular special conference in that it marks the 20th year of occurance with a keynote by the "godfather of sustainable agriculture" Wes Jackson and the conference theme of "Strengthening from Our Roots: Claiming Our Food-System Future."

I encourage you to browse the conference program that includes local meals, music, socializing, expert speakers, as well as a diverse range of informational sessions. I leave you with words from PASA's executive director Brian Snyder:

This year’s conference is special in many ways, but none as poignant as the opportunity we have to celebrate our 20th gathering together as a community of common purpose. My first conference was the 10th, so this is also a milestone of much significance to me personally. As such, it is a time to take stock of where we’ve come from and what we’ve achieved together. In true PASA fashion, however, we are not at all ready to give up the struggle that began even before our first gathering in 1992...the dual effort to restore dignity to farming and good food to the tables of all citizens in this nation and beyond.

Indeed, as our conference theme makes clear this year, we are ready to assert ourselves in a way we never could in the past. An economic recession has come and gone, and there will be others, but the rising tide of interest in the sources of our food and how it is produced will not be diminished anytime soon. That a healthy food system is a key element of our continued high quality of life on this planet is a conclusion being reached by folks at both ends of the political spectrum, and everywhere in unites us in ways that few other endeavors are able to.

We look forward to welcoming you to this latest edition of one of the largest and most respected gatherings of sustainable agriculture enthusiasts anywhere in the country. Come join us as we explore the great sustainable opportunity now before us, that of claiming our food-system future for our families, our communities and, indeed, the entire world.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy New Year-Delicious Winter Salad Recipe

Happy New Year! I cannot believe it has been almost a month since my last posting. I guess I got caught up in the holiday and end of year duties. Now that the New Year has begun and I am a little more caught up on office work--I am excited about posting on a more regular basis. Stay tuned for updates regarding the farm, our community, as well as news and events that might be of interest to you. In the meantime I thought you might appreciate this fantastic winter salad recipe--with all kinds of seasonal ingredients like fennel and citrus. I actually have the opportunity to try it last night. We had a going away gathering for farm friend Hannah--who is returning to university in Canada to complete her masters work. Hannah is a friend, helper, and surrogate daughter to Martha Pisano of Highland Farm Sheep cheese and yogurt. Martha brought this salad to the party last night and it paired perfectly with the other winter dishes brought to the table.

Speaking of talented women in our community--Margaret Gilmour, local writer and one of the founders of CC Dwell, has launched her own personal blog--Fresh Basil highlighting the things in life that are hand-crafted, just plucked, and all-natural--read more about Margaret here--Enjoy!