Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice 2012-Celebrate the Sun

"The Sun, the hearth of affection and life, pours burning love on the delighted earth."
—Arthur Rimbaud (1854–1891)

Happy Winter Solstice!  It is the shortest day of the year.   A day to celebrate the fact that from now until June, the days will increasingly be getting longer.  We will all be exposed to more and more sunlight.  It feels like we need a little more sunlight in our lives right now.  I will save the rants and reflections for another post in the near future.  It has been an intense Fall to say the least, and right now I simply want to revel in the joy that sunlight brings to us all.  Author and radio commentator Thom Hartmann writes
In a very real sense, we're all made out of sunlight.

Sunlight radiating heat, visible light, and ultraviolet light is the source of almost all life on Earth. Everything you see alive around you is there because a plant somewhere was able to capture sunlight and store it. All animals live from these plants, whether directly (as with herbivores) or indirectly (as with carnivores, which eat the herbivores). This is true of mammals, insects, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and bacteria . . . everything living. Every life-form on the surface of this planet is here because a plant was able to gather sunlight and store it, and something else was able to eat that plant and take that sunlight energy in to power its body.”

In a very poetic moment Happy Cat Farmer Tim wrote:

“Tomatoes are sunlight, held together by skin and seeds”
2012 was an amazing tomato year.  I have been looking through pictures from the past season.   I have a lot of tomato pictures, and after close inspection, I totally agree with Tim, tomatoes ARE sunlight, held together by skin and seeds.  If you click on the picture below you can view an album of tomato pictures from this past season.

I leave you with Mary Oliver’s poem The Sun—I guess I can’t help including a tiny bit of rant and reflection—at least it is in poetry form.  Enjoy the solstice, celebrate the sun.
The Sun
Have you ever seen
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone--
and how it slides again

out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance--
and have you ever felt for anything
such wild love--
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there,
or have you too
turned from this world--

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Healthy Holiday Gift Giving--Inspire the Magic of a Garden

As I have written about before, there is great power in your purchasing power.  Food activist Frances Moore Lappe writes, “Every aspect of our lives is, in a sense, a vote for the kind of world we want to live in.” One option is to give gifts related to gardening.  Gardening can inspire complete health- a mind, body and spirit approach to wellness.   There are two wonderful local companies that provide amazing products related to starting your own garden:

Happy Cat Farm a fantastic heirloom seed source
Green Heron Tools farming and gardening tools for woman
Green Heron tools are currently offering some useful Holiday Gift Collections and you can learn more about the story behind Happy Cat's seeds on this episode of WHYY's great program Friday Arts.

If the recipient of your gifts has neither the time nor the space for a garden, perhaps a CSA share is a good option (yes, this a shameless plug for an Inverbrook Farm CSA share).  We are currently taking members for the 2013 CSA season.  Click here for more information about Inverbrook Farm CSA.  Click on the picture below to view a slideshow sampling of the delicious healthful produce available in a CSA share.  Happy Gift Giving!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Chansonette Flowers & Art and Chadds Ford Greenhouses-a hidden gem for any plant lover

The Brandywine Valley is filled with amazing resources for any type of plant lover.  One such lesser known gem is Chadds Ford Greenhouses and the space they share with Chansonette Flowers & Art.  Chansonette is the floral design enterprise of the extremely talented artist Anne Eder. For many years Chansonette was housed in the borough of Kennett Square.  Anne's stamp on Kennett is still very evident in the enchanting decorations and floral displays she has created for the Library, Talula's Table and more.  It was Anne's close relationship with Talula's that first brought me to the wondrous greenhouse space known as Chadds Ford Greenhouses, as they paired up to hosted a Cheese Tasting and Orchid sale in this magical space.  Chansonette currently occupies a corner of one of the large greenhouses at Chadds Ford Greenhouses. 
Chansonette display within Chadds Ford Greenhouses
Words cannot do justice to this breathtaking horticultural display.  I could spend hours exploring the ever changing menagerie of plants, pottery, greenhouse rooms, props and ephemera.  It is as if you stepped into a story book magic garden or gotten the keys to the staff-only greenhouses at Longwood. The monolithic glass greenhouses are filled with all kinds of diverse floral treasures. Enormous cactus and agave provide a sense of antiquity and permanence; the perfect backdrop to a variety of smaller plant specimens all available for purchase.  While Chansonette's corner highlights succulents, orchards, air plants and some of the stranger displays the plant world has to offer; the rest the greenhouses feature a more traditional array of seasonally appropriate plants.  I encourage you to click through the facebook album from a recent visit to the greenhouses to get a better picture of the true diversity of the plants that are available from this garden center. 
If you still have holiday decorating to do or want to give the gift of plants, I cannot recommend enough a visit to this oasis just off of rt. 1 between Chadds Ford and Painters Crossing.  The vibrant displays of color along with the richly fragrant humid air is a great respite from the winter doldrums-like a trip to the tropics without leaving the area.  The selection of seasonal favorites like cyclamen, Christmas cactus or amaryllis all have the potential for a last minute fairly inexpensive holiday hostess gift. 

Christmas Cactus
If you are in need of a gift for the person who has everything perhaps an air plant ( Tillandsias ) would work.  They are very popular right now. I have to admit that I am addicted to these low maintenance little creatures.  Chansonette has a really nice selection available, including some beautiful Tillandsia "arrangements and ornaments" available on their Etsy Site.  Although online shopping is convenient I also strongly encourage you to treat yourself to a visit to this paradise in our backyard.  Your deserve it.  Happy plant buying. 

Tillandsias on the windowsill

Friday, December 7, 2012

2012 Inverbrook Holiday Sale

We are so pleased to be once again hosting the Inverbrook Farm Holiday Sale.  It really is an honor to present such a diverse group of talented local artisians; offering up the antidote to generic holiday gift giving.  I could spend a full blog post on each one of the participants; explaining their connection to the farm, community, their committment to sustainability, etc...instead I encourage you to click through the links below and explore their unique products and meaningful business models on your own.
There are three participants I would like to highlight, because they will provide a level of engagement beyond just buying products. The first is the Head and the Hand Press, the brain child of writer and urban farm activist Nic Esposito.  Through a recent kickstarter campaign, Nic and one of his partners Kerry Boland, have opened a Philadelphia based workshop space for writers interested in self publishing.  They are currently taking writing submissions for their newest project--the Rust Belt Rising Almanac.  If you are an aspiring writer or just want to talk about the creative community in Philadelphia, come on out to chat with Nic and Kerry.

The next participant I want to highlight is Dustin Eirdosh.  Once a member of our extented farm family through his work at Buck Run Farm, Dustin has returned to the area for the holidays.  In a rambling but romantic story--Dustin, while studying meat policy issues at a German university, fell in love with a German student, followed her to Madagascar and they are now engaged!  Dustin has recently set up the non-profit called Edu-Futures Madagascar-bringing computers and an integrated science, appropriate technology and enterprise curriculum to the school students of Madagascar.  Dustin will be selling spices and crafts from this beautiful and exotic country to raise money for his new non-profit. 

The last vendor I would like to feature is an Inverbrook Farm CSA member, Tobi Quinlin.  This summer Tobi set up a resource rich website Logical Living, intended to make an eco-friendly lifestyle all the more simple depending on your particular habits.  Tobi will be on hand to answer questions about how you can reduce your carbon footprint, promote the website and sell some useful ecologically minded stocking stuffers.

I hope these three short descriptions have peaked your interest and you will make it out to the farm for the sale (it is located in the big stone house at the end of the paved driveway, right before the horse barn).  Come pick up some amazing locally grown and handmade gifts for everyone on your list. Featuring one-of-a-kind stuffed animals, cheerful aprons and bags, locally published books, artisan jewelry, hand-carved folk art, handmade wrapping paper and note cards, moisturizing lip balms, beautifully-curated vintage housewares, and eco-friendly stocking stuffer essentials. And don't forget your favorite foodies... local honey, dried herbs and rubs, and seasonal sweet and savory pies. Stop by the farm this Saturday, 1-6 p.m.!

Ring in the holidays and shop for exceptional locally grown and handmade gifts this season!
* Heirloom Jewlery and Accessories (also featuring the folk carvings of Gordon Swenarton)