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Author: bloomingglenfarm

Record low temps, cold soil, intermittent rain, another finicky spring in Bucks County. Our crew seems perpetually clad in rubber rain gear, hands are cold, boots muddy. But there are still smiles at the end of each day, because after a winter of planning, we are finally planting.

The 1952 red seeder Cub tractor started right up on its first try- contributing to a valiant effort to direct sow spring radishes and turnips.

Fennel, lettuce, chinese cabbage, red and green cabbage, and spring onions were transplanted this week, despite the cold soil and muddy conditions.  Row covers are reluctantly wrestled out of storage, unfurled in two hundred foot lengths, draped over beds and hoops, and weighed down with shovelfuls of soil. These giant sheets of permeable fabric will protect the new transplants from wind, cold and bug damage.

The heated greenhouse and coldframe overflow with even more vibrant plants, all bursting with vitality, waiting their turn to head out into the fields.

The garlic is peeking up through its winter blanket of straw. We moved en masse through the half acre, pulling the thick bedding back where it had been mulched too thickly last fall, giving the sprouts a chance to poke through towards the sunlight.

The CSA fills up slower than usual- is everyone still thinking it’s winter, we wonder? Despite the chilly temps, spring is here and summer will come. Our tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplants and melons are sown- teasing us with visions of hot sweaty days, the juice of summer fruits running down our chins.

Two thousand heirloom tomato plants were grafted and are starting to take- soon they will leave their healing chamber and begin the journey to the high tunnels. The onions have been given a few haircuts, promoting bulb growth and strengthening the roots of the seedlings.

“To engage in any creative process, to live each day fully, we have to find our way back to the willingness to begin again- and again.”- Oriah Mountain Dreamer

The spring peepers and the red winged black birds sing, the pendulum swings between warm days, cold days, sunny days, rainy days. The earth stirs from its winter slumber, perhaps dragging its feet more than usual. This spring on the farm, we plant between the rain drops, rising each morning to face the elements and the tasks at hand.

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Who hasn’t dreamed of growing up on a farm? Inspired by a request made in the CSA survey, this new column will give a glimpse into life on the farm from a kid’s perspective. Whatever catches this third grader’s eye from week to week will be the theme. Enjoy, and please share with the little ones in your life!  

Chamomile: Sweet Dreams

The chamomile is just starting to sprout here in the greenhouse. But does everyone know what to do with this herb? I don’t think so, it would be amazing if everyone did, so here are some of its uses: stomachaches, indigestion, gas, colic, nervousness and tension, restlessness, crying, whining, and irritability, teething, imsomnia, colds, burns and cuts, sore muscles and rashes. The part of chamomile used is the flower. Chamomile is a warming herb. A warming herb is a herb that will warm you up and has a warming energy.

Here is recipe for a good night’s sleep:
Mix 1 teaspoon chamomile flowers with 1 teaspoon lemon balm and 1/2 teaspon fennel to 1 cup boiling water for a great tasting sleep tea. Sweet dreams!

Written by Dakota, a farm girl who loves to chase her chickens, read books, ride her bike and cuddle with her dog. Her favorite thing about growing up on a farm is getting to eat the food that grows right outside her door.

Similar to the practice of any serious art or craft, farmers must stay abreast of best practices and innovative techniques in the field of agriculture. New information acquired through research and professional development is then integrated into the farmer’s continuous practice of observation and reflection: it’s a process of constant refinement, always both humbling and educational.

While we like to geek-out over soil science, varietal selection and of course, equipment, we also take health very seriously. In fact, some may consider the farmer a primary healthcare provider, not only growing food to nourish a community but also taking great care in the handling of that food to ensure safety.

Last week I was privileged enough to attend a workshop on food safety presented by familyfarmed.org. Facilitated by successful farmer and author Atina Diffley, we examined best practices around food safety, post harvest handling, packing, and business management. Participants also learned how to create a food safety manual. Here, at Blooming Glen, we are fortunate because Tricia and Tom already have many of these systems in place to ensure that the food we grow maintains a chain of health from seed to harvest.

If a farmer fails to understand what health is, his [her] farm becomes unhealthy; it produces unhealthy food, which damages the health of the community… Wendell Berry

While we are proud of the integrity that goes into the production of our summer abundance, we also understand that this food is feeding your families. Therefore, our craft is not only an honor but a deep responsibility. By entering into this rather intimate relationship of mutual dependence, we are also engaged in a relationship of trust: as farmers we rely on you – the customers – to support our livelihood and co-create a shared community; as customers you are entrusting us – the farmers – with your health by way of the production of quality, nutritious, and safe food.

CSA Share July 2013

So while we strive to create a more resilient farm organism through mindful crop planning, soil health, careful cultivation techniques, and informed pest management, we also have systems to prevent plant and human pathogens.

Many of you will remember our blog post last fall on the Food Safety Modernization Act, asking you to submit comments to the FDA on their proposed food safety rules. Following is a recent follow-up quote from Brian Snyder, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA): 

“For the first time in recent history all of agriculture was speaking with one voice saying ‘Please don’t make it impossible for family farmers to stay on the land, producing the fresh fruits and vegetables that our citizens want to be healthy and value-adding small businesses our rural communities need in order to thrive.’

Add to this massive coalition the voices of PASA members and countless others who spoke at public meetings, talked with legislators, and customers, resulting in the submission of more than 25,000 written comments to the FDA by the deadline on the Friday before Thanksgiving, and you will know why we weren’t so surprised when, just before Christmas, the FDA announced they would be taking another crack at the most controversial parts of the proposed rules, starting from scratch with all the information they had received.

This welcome news was followed by a meeting I attended in January between the core leaders of our coalition and officials at FDA, including Deputy Commissioner Michael Taylor, to support the process of writing new rules and implementing them in a way that will work both for farmers and consumers who wish to access the freshest of foods for their families. This has truly been a watershed moment for our movement, giving us an opportunity to stop and celebrate . . . even if for just a short while.”- Brian Snyder

Now that’s exciting news! We will keep you informed as we learn of any new updates to the proposed rules. In the meantime, we continue with our commitment to bring you the healthiest produce possible!

Written by Jen Malkoun, assistant manager at Blooming Glen Farm. Photographs and editing by Tricia Borneman.  

Despite winter’s tight grip on the Mid-Atlantic region, your farmers at Blooming Glen are stickin’ to the plan! Today is the first day of spring, and though the weather of late has been a bit on the chilly side to say the least, we are not altering the farms planting schedule. We are diligently and optimistically keeping up with our weekly seeding. We remember all too well from past years how quickly the weather fortunes can change here in Southeastern Pa. And based on that experience we are pretty convinced it will be a short spring, and we’ll be quickly rocketed right into the hot days of summer, but who knows! (Ok, we might be reconsidering the wisdom of spring broccoli, a cool weather loving crop, but that’s just one teensy change. Otherwise, all systems go!)

Innoculated sugar snap pea seed.

In honor of St. Patty’s Day, we like to follow the lore of gardeners everywhere and sow our sugar snap peas. However, instead of sowing them into the cold damp soil where they will most likely either sit dormant or rot, we sow them into flats in the heated greenhouse, to be transplanted out when things warm up a bit. This is a switch we made a few years ago, to ensure reliable germination and healthy starts from the get go.

Luckily for our first planting of early greens, it is definitely looking like spring in our freshly plowed high tunnels. Spinach, arugula and lacinato kale will soon call this warm spot home, followed closely by our heirloom tomatoes.

This week we’ve been repairing and preparing our unheated coldframe. This is where our seedlings will endure a phase of hardening off. Pictured below are Jared and Cheyenne- two of our newest crew members from Wisconsin. We’ll introduce you to them in a crew profile soon!

The journey of the transplant from seed to field begins when the seeds are sown and the flats sit on a 70 degree heated table. After germination they come off the table but remain in the womb of the propagation greenhouse where they are fussed over and fed a steady diet of heat and water.

Phase two moves them to a heated greenhouse that is a bit cooler, but still very nurtured. Phase three, when the plants are rootbound, sees them head out to the coldframe. Here they experience gradual exposure to wind (the sides can be rolled up or down), to colder temps (just row covers and the greenhouse skin protect the plants at night) and less regular waterings. This stresses the plants just enough to get the seedlings toughened up and ready for the harsh reality of life in the fields, where they will leave the safety and comfort of their trays and stand alone in the wind, rain, cold and heat, and eventually become someone’s meal.

Make those veggies part of your meal! CSA memberships for the 2014 season are available. Register on our website today!

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Only 13 more days until the Spring Equinox, but who’s counting?! Here at the farm we’ve been wondering what this spring will hold after such an arctic, snowy and elongated winter.

Despite what we see with our eyes, the calendar tells us Spring will come. It must, and it will! We move forward as best we can with our plans – all the while our eyes on the weather and our hearts hoping for a spring thaw without over-saturated fields.

Farming is a constant shuffle – a continuous dance – between the world as it should be (according to plan) and the world as it is (reality which includes unknowns like weather, plant and insect life cycles, and time).

Along with planning for the season ahead, winter work consists of much needed farm repairs, maintenance and building. While the snow continued to pile up and ice crept in, we replaced the end-walls and plastic on one of our propagation greenhouses, purchased a new hot water heater to supply radiant heat for seedlings, and filled the tanks with propane.

After an inspiring conference with soil guru Elaine Ingham on the topic of compost and the soil food web, we came home and covered our compost windrows with covers in order to shed excess moisture.

We rebuilt our farm wagons, serviced the tractors and unfortunately took down the remnants of a high tunnel that collapsed under the loads of snow and ice.

Farming is a venture that not only lays bare all of ones mistakes and missteps in the face of nature, but brings one face to face with the impermanence of all things – attachment to anything (even plans) is not advised.

We started the season’s seeding on February 11th, with rootstock tomatoes for grafting and storage onions. They were quickly followed by our first successions of lettuce, brassicas, spinach, arugula, and heirloom tomatoes.

Arugula and heirloom tomato seedlings

As the propagation house fills, the cold weather continues. We look out onto the fields and ask: When? When will it happen? How will our plans work out? We reference records, go on experience and hope for the best, all the while keeping a positive attitude. Nothing is certain and everything is fair game. We continue to seed.

Tom and Tricia are diligently revisiting farm harvest records, and detailing and tweaking the farm’s systems. Farming is all about relationships. Whether it is the connections between soil microbiology and plant health, weather and crop yields, cultivation practices and insect and weed pressure- everything is interconnected in an intricate and diverse web. It is the farmer’s job to understand those relationships and to create the best conditions for life to survive and thrive.

One example of this is to provide habitat for pollinators and beneficial insects. The use of flowering cover crops like Sweet Alyssum to attract bees as well as predatory insects, or the practice of intercropping flowers with cash crops like lettuce and peppers, works in concert with natural rhythms and cycles to encourage a balance. Diversity leads to flexibility, which in turn creates resilience and increases the farm’s ability to rebound after a “crisis” like extreme weather.

Similar to the webs alive and active on the farm, we all have a unique role to play – each of us holding a place that is different but important. So, as we push forward – inching ever so slowly toward spring and then summer – we continue to straddle these two worlds of planning and reality. And we will continue to do our best to support your journey toward better health, a connection to the source of your food, and the creation of community. I’ll use this as a shameless plug for our CSA: if you haven’t already, please sign up!

Despite the conditions outside, we are planning another righteous season at Blooming Glen and hope that you will join us in this radical adventure of agriculture. 

Written by Jen Malkoun, assistant manager at Blooming Glen Farm. Photographs and editing by Tricia Borneman. Other photos contributed by Tom Murtha and Jen Malkoun. 

There are only 5 days left to comment on the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). We know that’s not a lot of time, but as a crucial supporter of local agriculture we hope you’ll take a moment to read the following and let your voice be heard.

The Food Safety Modernization Act is the first major overhaul of our nation’s food safety practices since 1938. It represents some big changes to our food system – and it is extremely important for the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to get these regulations right.

Why you need to give your input to the FDA:

“It’s not easy to explain, but anyone experienced with monitoring food system policy knows that the most important aspects of FSMA have little to do with issues involving water, manure, exemptions or even definitions.  What we’re really dealing with here is the potential culmination of a decades-long process of government policy being used to favor a fully industrialized food system over the preceding system, which was, unconsciously and by its very nature, more local, sustainable and organic in the way it functioned.” – Brian Snyder, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA).

For commentary on this important moment in food policy, read more from Brian Snyder at his blog, Write to Farm. To clarify, we at Blooming Glen Farm take food safety very seriously, have received numerous food safety trainings over the years, and both strengthened and put into place a variety of common sense food safety practices. I particularly like Brian Snyder’s blog post from 2010, Sustainable Food Safety. 

About the Food Safety Modernization Act:

FSMA gives the FDA broad new powers to prevent food safety problems, detect and respond to food safety issues, and improve the safety of imported foods. FSMA does not change food safety regulations for meat, poultry, and egg products, which are under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s jurisdiction.

FSMA authorizes new regulations at the farm level for producers and certain facilities. Specifically, FSMA mandates the establishment of:
Standards for produce production (Produce Rule), and food safety measures for facilities that process food for human consumption (Preventive Controls Rule).

Top 10 Problems with the FDA’s Proposed Food Safety Regulations for Farmers and Local Food Businesses :

1.    They’re too expensive. The rules could cost farmers over half of their profits and will keep beginners from starting to farm.

2.    They treat farmers unfairly. FDA is claiming broad authority to revoke small farmers’ protections without any proof of a public health threat.

3.    They will reduce access to fresh, healthy food. Local food distributors like food hubs could close, and new food businesses will not launch.

4.   They make it harder for farms to diversify. Grain, dairy, and livestock farmers could be denied access to emerging local food markets. 

5.    They will over-regulate local food. The rules could consider farmers markets, roadside stands, and community-supported agriculture programs “manufacturing facilities” subject to additional regulation.

6.    They treat pickles like a dangerous substance. The rules fail to protect a host of low-risk processing activities done by smaller farms and processors.

7.    They make it nearly impossible to use natural fertilizers like manure and compost. Farmers will be pushed to use chemicals instead. 

8.    They require excessive water testing on farms. Farmers using water from streams and lakes will have to pay for weekly water tests regardless of risk or cost.

9.    They could harm wildlife and degrade our soil and water. The rules could force farmers to halt safe practices that protect natural resources and wildlife.

10.   Bonus: there’s at least one good thing about the rules. The rules take an ‘integrated’, not a ‘commodity-specific’ approach – meaning farmers won’t face over 30 separate rules for each kind of fresh produce they grow.

Give your input! The FDA’s new food safety rules must:

  • Allow farmers to use sustainable farming practices, including those already allowed and encouraged by existing federal organic standards and conservation programs.
  • Ensure that diversified and innovative farms, particularly those pioneering models for increased access to healthy, local foods, continue to grow and thrive without being stifled. 
  • Provide options that treat family farms fairly, with due process and without excessive costs.

Make Your Voice Heard: Submit a Comment to FDA Today!

FDA is seeking comments from the public – that’s you! The #1 most important thing you can do to help fix FSMA is take a few minutes RIGHT NOW to submit a comment to FDA either online or through the mail. Click here to see a sample comment to get started! It is important to personalize your comment – FDA will read every single submission, and unique comments have the most impact. The comment period deadline is November 15!  It is critical for sustainable farmers and consumers who care about where their food comes from to write comments to FDA about the proposed regulations to ensure that FDA correctly implements FSMA!

For more information on FMSA and its potential impact on small farms and producers, go to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s website.

Says PASA’s Brian Snyder: “If you have not already weighed-in with written comments on the FSMA rules, you are in danger of forfeiting your opportunity to participate in history. Everything you need to know about the proposed regulations and how to comment can be found on the NSAC website, or even more succinctly on the PASA website (thanks to NSAC, of course).”

In a nutshell:

There are two ways to submit your comments:

  1. Comment electronically at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=FDA-2011-N-0921
  2. Written comments may be faxed to the FDA at 301-827-6870 or you may mail them to:
    Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)
    Food and Drug Administration
    5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061
    Rockville, MD 20852

Twenty four weeks have past since the start of the CSA season way back in May. For the farm crew that’s 48 harvests down- not counting market and wholesale harvests. Over 400 families from our local community were fed this season through the CSA- some coming to pick up every week, some every other week. For a full share family that was 24 weeks of veggies, 18 weeks of flower bouquets, 38 pounds of potatoes, 32 pounds of slicing tomatoes, 15 pounds of chard and kale, 16 pounds of onions, 18 pounds summer squash, 6 melons, 10 pounds of sweet peppers, and the list goes on and on!

CSA share, week 24, 11/5/13.

In addition we continued our relationship with our local food pantries, with leftover produce from the farm being picked up every single Monday morning and distributed to those in need by volunteer extraordinaire Joe Coleman. Also thanks to Cathy Snyder and her team from Rolling Harvest Food Rescue for her boundless energy in making sure no edible crops are ever wasted at any farm in Bucks County! Her work is real and tangible and has a serious positive impact on our local community. (I would urge you to check out their website and consider giving a gift of a donation to their organization this holiday season.)

For Tom and I, over the past 8 years, we’ve seen 384 CSA harvests (but who’s counting?). We’ve shared with you in blog posts over the past months the stories of the many hands here that contribute their collective energy to growing your vegetables, and kept you updated on the tasks and efforts involved. Yet with over 50 full and part time employees having come and gone over the past 8 years, the main constants for Tom and I are truly this land that continues to provide us all with nourishing food, and the community of families that value and support our effort and vision. We know this is not an easy thing to do- that there is an equal amount of work and committment on your end to get to the farm each week, to keep an open mind about quantities and varieties, to develop menus and recipes from what is in your share, and to cook (or juice) that mountain of veggies each week. We thank you profusely for making that commitment this season, and hope you’ll continue with us as we grow together into the future. 

Year after year, Tom and I are continuously learning and are always experimenting with the crops we grow and the systems in place to grow them (like plant spacing, soil building techniques, equipment to make things easier and more efficient for our crew, and so on). Then we evaluate what works and doesn’t work (how to minimize brussel sprout bug damage and keep caterpillars off the broccoli, how to grow bigger sweet corn, and to do it all organically; how to teach and inspire our crew, and stay true to standards of quality and productivity while juggling expectations). I would say that though the specifics may change from season to season, our biggest challenges continue to be weather (too much rain being the hardest on our soil type), pests and labor.

This year we felt like we were able to introduce more diversity in the shares. New crops this season: sweet potato greens, lemongrass, black radish, broccoli raab, brussel sprouts, big fat fall kohlrabi, transplanted and bunched arugula and dandelion greens, and cuban pumpkins. New varieties were trialed of potatoes, tomatillos, sweet corn, tomatoes, and storage onions as well as fall cauliflower and broccoli. We hope you’ve enjoyed both the staple crops and the more unusual offerings. We will be sending out a survey soon- we hope you’ll share your thoughts with us. Re-registration for the 2014 should be available in the next few weeks. Stay tuned and have a wonderful winter!

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Blooming Glen PotatoesBlooming Glen Farm grows a really wonderful selection of potatoes. We’ve been introduced to a variety of potatoes this season, including Sangre, Purple Sun, Kerrs Pink and Purple Viking, along with classic Yukons. While specific nutrition may differ a bit between varieties, generally speaking, all potatoes have almost half the recommended daily values of vitamins C and B6 and potassium. The recent low-carb craze have given potatoes a bad rap in recent years, but the truth is potatoes are actually a healthy complex carbohydrate. They’re a “good” carb, meaning that they digest slowly, preventing your blood sugar from spiking like simple carbs do. The caveat: We need to eat them with their skin and prepare them as healthily as possible. So, choose the baked potato or simple mashed potatoes over the French fries and potato chips 🙂

If you’re anything like me, you still have some potatoes from the last few weeks’ shares hanging out in your kitchen, and maybe even a couple different varieties. Feel free to mix and match whatever potatoes you happen to have on hand for the recipe below. This recipe is based on one of my mom’s classic soups. Growing up, we always looked forward to the first batch of her potato soup each fall — it took some of the sting out of the increasing colder weather and darker nights. In this version, I add beans, which provide a healthy boost of fiber and plant-based protein, and makes for a more filling and nutritionally complete meal. The seasonings are kept super simple, allowing the natural flavors of our fresh and local potatoes, leeks and celery to really come through.

Sam’s Potato Soup

Sam's Potato Soup
Serves 12
Ingredients

2 tbs Earth Balance
1 tsp peppercorns
1-1/2 cups leeks, cut into half moons and sliced
1 cup celery stalks and greens, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5-6 cups potatoes, scrubbed clean with skin left intact, cut into a large dice
1/2 tsp salt
6-8 cups vegetable or No-Chicken broth
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste

Method
Heat butter in a large heavy-bottom pot. Add leeks, celery, garlic, salt, pepper and peppercorns, sprinkle with a bit of salt and stir well. Cook until veggies begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Stir in potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and mix well. Add a splash of broth and let potatoes heat up, about 3-5 minutes. Add 6 cups of broth and bring to a boil. Let simmer and cook until potatoes begin to get get tender, about 20 minutes. Remove peppercorns. Add beans and, depending on consistency of soup desired, add more broth. Cook for 5-10 minutes more. Salt and pepper to taste. Option: You can blend part of the soup with an immersion blender or in a blender for a creamier soup.

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

In this week’s share and on our market stands you’ll see a few different winter radishes: daikon, watermelon and one you might not be familiar with- the black radish. The black radish, or round black spanish type, is a variety hailing from eastern Mediterranean countries. It has a history as both a food and a medicine that goes back thousands of years in Egypt, Greece, Rome and China. Egyptian tomb illustrations from 2000 BC are thought to show black radishes and it was perhaps the food of the builders of the ancient pyramids. High in Vitamin C, they are known for their ability to fight off infection and promote healthy digestive function. In Russia, the black radish has long been used in the treatment of thyroid problems and imbalances.

The black radish has a black skin, ivory flesh and a crisp dry texture with a pungent earthy flavor. With its soaring heat (it can be very hot!), the black radish is recommended grated raw as a substitute for horseradish. It’s also delicious roasted. A popular German way to enjoy these long-storing radishes throughout the winter is sliced, sprinkled with salt then rinsed after about 10 min. to remove some of the bitterness, and eaten on rye bread with a dark beer!

CSA share, week 23, 10/29/13

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Folks were lined up in anticipation of our fourth annual Pie-Bake Off contest at the farm’s Harvest Festival on October 12th, waiting patiently for the chance to taste and vote for their favorite pie. Over 100 votes were cast for the People’s Choice, and it’s no stretch to say that we were all winners for the opportunity to taste ten delicious homemade pies.

Lining up while the judges make their decision; Patiently waiting!

Bernadette Rodrigo, the landslide winner of the People’s Choice with her scrumptious Cherry Pistachio Pie, was presented with the large ceramic pie trophy made by Katia McGuirk- bragging rights for one year, to be held and passed on to next year’s winner.

New this year we introduced the Judges Vote. Our esteemed panel of three judges carefully savored and compared slices of the competing pies. They were able to quickly come to a concensus on the first and second place pie, with some deliberation involved for the third place win. The judges looked at creativity, flavor, crust and presentation. The winner of the Judges Vote, also Bernadette Rodrigo, was presented with a ceramic pie-plate handmade by potter Christine Hernandez. (*The winners of both the People’s and Judges awards were not announced until later in the day, so no voters were influenced.)

2013 Pie Judges: Thomas Murtha, Iliana Berkowitz, and Susan Kahn

The first pie judge was Thomas Murtha- not Blooming Glen’s Farmer Tom- but his father who shares not only a name but a deep love for pie. Thomas Murtha turns 82 this week, and that adds up to a lot of pies enjoyed over a lifetime (without hesitation he’d choose pie over cake anyday), with many more to taste and enjoy. Thomas, (aka Tom the young, with Farmer Tom being Tom the Younger), or Pop as we like to call him, has a serious soft spot for fruit pies (but don’t tell next year’s contestants ;)).

The second pie judge was Iliana Imberman Berkowitz. Iliana is a professional bread baker at Stephen Starr’s Parc Bistro in the heart of downtown Philadelphia. Previously, she made croissant and other pastries in West Philadelphia at Four Worlds Bakery. “In my spare time I like to bake cookies, pies, brownies, and anything sweet. I’ve got flour in my veins! I was delighted and honored to participate as a judge in this year’s contest, and was impressed by all 10 entries.”

Susan Kahn of Bucks County Cookie Company was the third pie judge. Susan said, “I’ve been baking all my life, well, ever since I was young. I always loved it! I started my cookie business for that reason, actually. Guess I figured I might as well start a business that I loved. So, when I left my full time job, I began BCCC in 2008. Pies are just such a homemade comforting all American dessert. Everybody loves Pie! My favorite pies have a nice flaky crust and the filling can be anything from fruits to custards. It doesn’t matter…I love them all.”

Cherry Pistachio Pie
by Bernadette Rodrigo
Judges Vote: First Place
People’s Choice: First Place

Bernadette Rodrigo lives with her husband and two children in Plumsteadville. She has been enjoying baking and experimenting with ethnic and gourmet cooking since she was a teenager. She finds joy in being able to create food that brings people together and puts a smile on the faces of friends and family. “This pie takes elements from different recipes and combines them. The simplicity of the ingredients and the richness added by the buttery crust are what makes this pie irresistible. I hope you enjoy it.”- Bernadette

Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 sticks chilled butter
3 egg yolks
4 tablespoons ice water

Combine flour and sugar. Chop butter into 1/2” squares and add to flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, blend until it resembles course meal. In a small bowl lightly beat egg yolks and water. Add liquid to the flour mixture, tossing with a fork, until evenly distributes. Mixture will be crumbly. Use hands to press the dough into a ball. Turn out onto counter top and kneed a few times, smearing the butte and forming the dough into a ball. Divide in two. Flatten into two discs. Wrap and refrigerate. This recipe makes enough crust for 2 pies.

Pistachio Paste
3/4 cup pistachios, unsalted
1/4 cup almonds, blanched
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Process above ingredients in food processor until a paste forms. Then add:
4 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Process until all ingredients are incorporated. Set aside.

Cherry Filling
3 cups of cherries, fresh, frozen or jarred
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon sugar
Toss together and set aside.

Crumb Topping
1/2 cup pistachios
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine in above ingredients in food processor to mix, leaving oats semi-intact.

Assembly
Roll pastry to fit your pie pan and shape the crust.
Spread the pistachio paste evenly on the bottom of the crust.
Spread cherries evenly over the paste. Then sprinkle crumb topping over the cherries.
Bake at 375 degrees until crust is browned and the center bubbles. Approx. 45 minutes.

Raspberry-Apple Crumb Pie
By Esther Berko
Judges Vote: Second Place
People’s Choice: Third Place

“My inspiration to participate in the contest was because it would make me feel closer to my daughter Lexi’s world at the farm and more than just a spectator. (Lexi is a student at DelVal College and a BGF employee.)  Before Saturday I had no thoughts about the pie because I really don’t enjoy baking that much and my sister e-mailed the recipe to me. I have neither baked that pie before Saturday nor tasted it until the pie contest – and, yes, it was delicious!! However, given the positive response, I will definitely bake it again and will consider it my favorite pie in the universe. I will definitely participate again next year and will begin the search for a great pie recipe … or maybe concoct my own! I guess you could say my inspiration to bake more pies has just begun!” -Esther Berko

Crust
1 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box.  Do not bake ahead of time.

Filling
3 cups thinly sliced peeled baking apples (3 medium).  Add a splash of lemon juice.
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups frozen raspberries, thawed
½ cup cubed or crumbled almond paste (from 7 or 8 oz. package) *Check the label to make sure it lists almonds as the first ingredient.

Almond Crumb Topping
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup cold butter
½ cup sliced almonds – roast them in a pan a little

Assembly
Heat oven to 350.  Place pie crust in a 9-inch glass pie plate as directed on the box for One-Crust Filled pie.
In a large bowl, stir together apples, ½ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and the cinnamon. Spoon filling into crust-lined plate.  Sprinkle with raspberries.  Sprinkle almond paste over raspberries.

In medium bowl, mix ½ cup flour and ¼ cup sugar.  Cut in butter, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions) until particles are size of small peas. Stir in almonds. Sprinkle topping evenly over almond paste.

Bake 30 minutes. Cover edge with 2-3” strips of foil to prevent excessive browning.  Bake 30 to 50 minutes longer or until apples are tender in center and surface is golden brown.  (Put foil underneath to catch drips).  Serve warm or cool.

Sour Cream Apple Pie (adapted from The Silver Palate cookbook)
By Alysha Day
Judges Vote: Third Place

“I really enjoy cooking and baking with fresh ingredients for my family and friends. Over the past 2 years my family and I have learned so much about the food we eat by being members of your CSA, and are glad to have the chance to share something delicious with you!” -Alysha Day

Crust
2 ½ cups unbleached flour
5 tablespoons Sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
2-3 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (chilled)
6 tablespoons vegetable shortening (chilled)
4-6 tablespoons apple cider (chilled)

Sift the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon into a bowl. Cut in the butter and sugar with a fork until the mixture resembles rolled oats. Moisten with just enough cider to permit the dough to be formed into a ball. Wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hr.

After filling is ready cut off 1/3 of the dough and return it to the fridge. Roll out the remaining dough between sheets of wax paper. Grease a 9inch pie pan and line it with dough.

Filling
5-7 tart apples (I mix several varieties.)
2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg lightly beaten
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

Whisk together all filling ingredients and then toss with the peeled, cored and thinly sliced apples. Spoon into the pastry lined pie. Roll out remaining dough and cut into strips for lattice on top.

Topping
3 tablespoons Brown Sugar
3 tablespoons Sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Set the pie on center rack of a 350 oven (preheated).  Bake until juices are bubbling and crust is golden. 50-65 minutes. If crust browns too quickly cover loosely with foil.

 

Strawberry Crumb Pie
By Tricia Borneman
People’s Choice: Second Place

“Each pie contest so far I’ve found a new recipe and slaved over the elaborate ingredients- (homemade gingersnap cookies became a crust with a carmel brittle one year), but this year I just decided to go with my favorite pie to make and eat, especially since it really showcases the taste of the farm’s bounty. The word from the pie servers was this was a favorite with the kids- I can relate- it’s a pie I grew up loving, and one I look forward to making every spring. Thanks to my mom for this recipe- not many people go for the straight strawberry- but we both agree- don’t mess up our strawberries with rhubarb! (Though I do love a straight rhubarb pie!) Enjoy!”- Tricia Borneman

Crust
Pate Brisee recipe from Martha Stewart.com

Crumb Topping
1 Cup flour, ½ cup sugar and 1 stick cold butter. Mix with pastry cutter until crumbly.

Filling
4 cups sliced strawberries (I used frozen ones from the farm from Spring)
2 1/2 tablespoons Tapioca
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ to ¾ cups sugar, depending on how sweet berries are.

Assembly
Mix filling ingredients gently, let set a few minutes, pour into 9” crust. Top with crumb topping. Put pie on cookie sheet to catch drips. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 min then turn back to 350 for approx 40 min. If crust is getting too done, cover edges with foil. Pie is done when crumb top is golden and pie is bubbly.

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.