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Blooming Glen farm apprentice Carly Freedman has an equal love for crafting and root vegetables, for her faith and for her family. She brings to our farm crew a big heart and infectious enthusiasm. Below she shares her journey to farming.

I was born and raised in Ambler, PA surrounded by loud and loving family and friends. As the youngest of three, my parents, Michael and Audrey, were always on the run and keeping us busy with many different activities. From dance, to soccer, to softball, to swimming, to singing, to theatre, my childhood was filled with different experiences which shaped my personality and morals. In college and beyond, my passions shifted greatly from biology, to the environment, to cooking, to Judaism, to environmental education, to dairy goats, to vegetable farming. 

Carly at Kayam Farm in 2008.

My passion for farming started at Ursinus College, when I heard a talk about Judaism and the environment, which led me to participate in a 2 week experiential program at Kayam, a Jewish educational farm. There, I was introduced to what it feels like to grow food, connect with the earth, community, and my religious traditions. This ignited a spark within me and I started to delve more into environmental studies, gardening, environmental education with children, and their relationship with Judaism. After much studying and learning in school and on my own, I graduated college in December 2010 with a dual degree in Biology and Environmental Studies and the mission to live the values I had developed and learn the skills that I lacked.

I began my next chapter in Spain, Morocco, and Israel, where I learned about herbal medicine, different cultures, gardening, and living in a Jewish society. From there, I went to Oregon, where I lived on a small sustainable homestead and learned animal husbandry, raising dairy goats, processing wool from sheep to sweater, preserving food, and much more.

Then I moved to southern California where I worked as a nature and farm educator at a Jewish nature reserve and conference center.  I learned survival skills, Native American crafts, gardening in a chaparral climate, and how to aide in connecting children with nature.

Carly with new mama and baby goat at the Pearlstone Center.

From California, I moved to Maryland where I worked at the farm at the Pearlstone Center as a farm and educator apprentice. I cared for dairy goats and chickens, grew vegetables on 4 acres, and helped to run a 40 share CSA with a small and passionate farming community. We also served the Baltimore Jewish community with farm and nature education. That experience left me inspired to really focus on vegetable production on a larger scale.

This led me to Blooming Glen! Here, I have been able to work with an amazing crew and have begun to learn successful, sustainable, and effective systems to growing beautiful vegetables.  I believe that as spiritual, physical, social, and emotional beings, when we engage all of those sides of ourselves, we connect to a whole and meaningful experience. Farming is able to engage a person on all levels; the physical labor, the social implications of participating in the sustainable agriculture movement and engaging in the farm and larger community, the emotional experience of growing food and feeding a community, and the spiritual connection developed as you connect with life! Farming is always exciting and presents new challenges and rewards.  I love to harvest root vegetables (like beets and radishes) because it is always surprising and exciting to see what you will pull out of the ground.  Every day is exciting as I learn new skills, recall old ones, and challenge myself at Blooming Glen.

Learning new tractor skills at Blooming Glen Farm.

When I am not farming, I love to cook, read, craft, hike, spend time with my family, play games with my grandma, and go on adventures with my friends.

I look forward to all that this season will bring- from the cold and hard days of preparing the farm in the spring, to the hard work that follows during the summer harvest and fall plantings, to the fall harvest and prep for winter in the fall. I hope to continue learning more and more each day and I look forward to meeting everyone in the greater Blooming Glen Farm community. Until then, remember to breathe properly, stay curious, and eat your beets!

Photos and text by Carly Freedman.

Herbalist Susan Hess of Farm at Coventry is returning to Blooming Glen Farm for the 2013 season!  From May to October she will teach a wonderful variety of herbal classes, as well as her very popular cheese-making class. And, if you sign up for all six classes, you’ll get one free!

Susan Hess is a therapeutic herbalist and native weed wrangler who resides in northern Chester County. Since 1997 Susan has grown a fine line of handcrafted herbal products at the Farm at Coventry. She also enjoys sharing her knowledge through community outreach programs, weed walks and her own teaching gardens during her 12 month “Homestead Herbalism” course. Susan’s website www.FarmatCoventry.com showcases her photography as well as her herbal product line and educational offerings.

Below you will find the class descriptions and dates for the classes that Susan Hess will be holding at Blooming Glen Farm this season. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn from a master herbalist. You will be surprised at the many things that you can easily integrate into your own life, from first aid to wellness remedies, using both cultivated and wild herbs. You may sign up for as little as one class, or all six, it’s up to you! (**If you do decide to sign up for all six of the classes, one class will be free of charge! Six classes for only $150!) Pre-registration (with payment) is required. Registration is through Susan’s website: FarmatCoventry.com, or send a check to Farm at Coventry, 1889 Little Conestoga Road, Elverson, PA 19520. Please call Susan for more details or questions at 610-587-7301.

Soft Cheesemaking: It’s easy to make soft cheeses using farm fresh cow or goat milk and culture!  Unlike cheeses that need to be aged and carefully tended for months, fresh cheeses are ready to eat within a day and can be easily incorporated into any kitchen routine using basic kitchen equipment. Susan will demonstrate the simple step-by-step processes of making a soft cheese such as Chevre or Fromage Blanc and at the end of class we will sample a variety of cheeses. Instructional handouts, a resource list and one packet of culture is included in the cost of the class. Additional supplies will be available for purchase. Register early…this class has been wildly popular! Wed. July 10, 6-7:30pm. Cost: $30

Your Natural Medicine Cabinet: Keep your family healthy and comfortable the natural way! Discussion of gathering supplies for a natural medicine cabinet and first aid kit, quick home remedies using common kitchen ingredients and relief for stings, burns, tummy troubles, etc. As always, abundant handouts will be provided. Wed. June 19, 6-8pm. Cost: $30

Art and Craft of Topical Remedies: Understanding that the skin is the largest organ system in the body helps us to utilize herbs in ways that don’t always require ingesting them! This presentation will specifically focus on the craft of topical applications: from green plant poultices to warm tea compresses, plasters, liniments and more. Demonstrations accompanied by plenty of handouts. Wed. July 24, 6-8pm. Cost: $30

Infused Oils and Salve Making: Learn the time-tested secrets to making beautiful, consistently concentrated herb infused oils for creating your own homemade salves, massage oils and liniments. Susan will discuss the step by step process of making great herb infused oils and utilizing a wide variety of herbs. We’ll finish by making simple salves with the class. Participants will receive take home goodies and handouts. Additional supplies will be available for purchase to make your own at home! Wed. August 14, 6-8pm. Cost: $30

Preserving the Herbal Harvest: Join lively discussion and hands-on demonstrations of the many techniques for preserving the herbal harvest. Topics will include: proper harvesting techniques, proper drying and storage methods and basics of making vinegars, syrups, pestos, etc. Know what supplies to have on hand before you are blessed with baskets and buckets of your favorite flowers, berries and herbs. Abundant handouts, recipes and take home goodies will be provided. Roll up your sleeves…we’re going to work this one! Wed. Sept. 11, 6-8pm. Cost: $30

Winter Health~ Preventive Care and Comfort Measures:   Learn how to build strong immune health before the cold and flu season hits by incorporating simple preventive measures, utilizing tonic herbs and stocking up on nutritious foods in the kitchen. We’ll also discuss what to have on hand for acute symptoms of a cold and comfort measure for fever, coughs and sniffles. An additional emphasis on children’s health will be included. Abundant handouts and hot tea will be provided. Wed. Oct. 2, 6-8pm. Cost: $30

Susan Hess is a 1996 graduate of the prestigious Herbal Therapeutics School of Botanical Medicine’s 2-year Herbal Practitioner’s Program in Washington, NJ. (Currently called David Winston’s Center for Herbal Studies.) She has also completed the schools 1-year Graduate program and studied extensively with director and ethnobotanist, David Winston AHG (Professional Member of the American Herbalist Guild). In the past 15 years she has used her skills and training in the natural food industry and as a sales associate for Herbalist & Alchemist, Inc. of Washington, NJ.  Susan is qualified to consult with practitioners, retail stores and private individuals on the proper uses of medicinal herbal products. In 2000, Susan completed a clinical training at the Wellsprings Centre for Natural Healing in Fairfield, Connecticut with noted herbalists, Donald Yance, MH, CN, AHG (author of best-selling “Herbal Medicine, Healing and Cancer”) and Chanchal Cabrera, MINMH, AHG. She has also completed one year of apprentice studies with Jennifer Tucker, a well-known herbalist and author from Spring Mills, PA. To keep abreast of current herbal information, Susan regularly attends conferences and lectures throughout the Northeast.

 

Not only do we share a fence line and an equipment barn with Tussock Sedge Farm, but we also share with farm owners Henry and Charlotte Rosenberger similar farming ideals, and a passion for sustainable agriculture. We are happy to be able to share with our farm community this very local source of humanely raised, hormone and antibiotic-free grass fed beef.  Below Henry Rosenberger tells the story of Tussock Sedge Farm.

What inspired you to get involved raising cows? 

Henry Rosenberger: I grew up in the Rosenberger Dairy industry and I never enjoyed the early hours of milking cows and hauling milk.  I did love the beef side of cows, where the calves are nourished drinking from “freshened” mother cows.  Much of the land in Bucks County is especially “HEL”, “highly erodible land”, making grazing very suitable and more adaptable than row crop farming.  Romantically speaking, it’s important to know, too, the Oklahoma! musical verses were written right here in Doylestown by Oscar Hammerstein  … “all the cattle are standing like statues”.

How many cattle do you raise and on how much land?

HR: We raise about 100 calves from birth each year.  Cows are mammals, taking nine months for gestation and usually only have one calf each year.  We usually have two sets of twins each year.  The calves are weaned after 8-10 months, giving the mother time to catch up on her nutritional diet before giving birth to her next calf.  We graze and feed hay and minerals to the weaned calves for another 8-10 months for them to grow to maturity at 1150-1200 pounds.  We graze up to 300 animals on 385 acres.

What’s the most challenging part of being a cow farmer?

HR: Making constant rounds to always be certain that every animal is safe and well cared for….. water, rotated fresh pastures, minerals and salt.  Also, each year offers unique challenges:  drought, too much rain, poor drying time for hay, and making adjustments to reconcile what you can’t change… such as the weather.

What’s the most rewarding?

HR: The most rewarding part of farming is watching and hearing nature heal the past use of herbicides and pesticides…. Hearing a choir of peepers and tree frogs in the evening… Seeing birthing calves drop and soon be standing aside the mother after being licked and encouraged to her/his feet for the first time….having experienced 90 births with no assistance…nature at it’s best.  And finally, having patrons who appreciate all this and really genuinely share our enjoyment:  “We love what you are doing” or “I can breathe better driving through this farm”.

Why did you make the decision to go with totally grass fed?  What has that transition meant to your business?

HR: Why grass fed?  Never were cows in their natural habitat eating corn.  It was a place to “dump” cheap corn in the 60’s and 70’s (corn is no longer cheap).  Grass fed beef offers higher Omega 3 fat and CLA and lower Omega 6 fat, which is unhealthy in excess.  It is leaner than corn finished beef.  A grass fed beef enjoys rotational grazing, which mimics a natural routine of always moving into fresh re-growth of grass and legumes, leaving behind waste and topped grass to recover. 

The transition to grass fed beef meant we didn’t have meat to sell for a year because it takes two years, not 15 months, to finish beef on grass.  It also meant we lost some customers who prefer corn fed fatty beef.  We also gained many new customers who were convinced of the nutritional value of grass fed beef.  Grass fed beef has a stronger bovine taste, a sweet and nutty flavor, when aged 5-10 days.

Is there anything special about the breed of cows you raise?

HR: The breed of cattle we choose is Red Angus cows bred by Rotakowa Devon bulls.  The outcome of this cross is a highly productive converter of cellulose to protein.  They represent a medium frame cow which performs well solely on grass and legumes.

How do you manage your pastures?

HR: Management of pastures includes soil testing every three years.  We maintain PH at 6.6-7.0 and mostly focus on cattle grazing to manage the pastures.  They provide Nitrogen with their 20-30 lbs of manure and urea daily.  The farmer manages the grass by moving cows into pastures at 12 inches until they eat it down to four inches.  Special effort is made to dig bull thistles by hand but we never use herbicides on the pastures for weed control.  But the best control of weeds is maintaining a high PH—weeds thrive in acidic soil.  Having increased the organic matter from 1 ½ % to 4-7% is my most encouraging sign of optimum achievement in soil management.

What are your plans for the future of your farm—any changes in the works?

HR: Plans for the future involve adding sheep to our pastures.  Currently we have seven ewes and births of five lambs in April 2013.  They, too, will be grass fed and finished Dorset sheep.  We expect to have 50 ewes within a few years.  We also are planning on longer grazing when weather allows by stockpiling grass (hay) in the fields to be eaten in winter.  Cows are healthiest outdoors and prefer it to lying in barns all winter.

Our customers understand why CSA’s are important in the context of vegetable farming.  What does buying a “share” of a cow means, and why that is helpful to you as the farmer?

We love a vegetable CSA and realize we share the risk of the farmer by “paying ahead” for my vegetable share.  The same is true for marketing beef. The greatest assurance I have as a beef farmer is to know that what I am spending two years to raise, grow and graze, I will have someone to buy and consume it when it’s ready to harvest and process.  It is very helpful when we can sell a 1/8th share (2 per year,  46 lbs each) or a 12 lb. Sampler Pack share (3 per year) in advance.  We offer a discount to encourage buyers to purchase shares.  This year the discount is 2012 prices in 2013.  This saves $5 on each of the three Sampler Packs and $20 on each of the 1/8th packs.  Our 2013 prices for individual packs go into effect on May 1.  We will accept share applications until May 30.  Share holders have priority in what is available each year.  For Blooming Glen Farm CSA members who purchase shares, we are happy to deliver the beef order to the CSA for pick-up when you are getting your veggies.

To find out more details about the Tussock Sedge Farm beef share program, and to take advantage of the 2012 pricing, head over to Tussock Sedge Farm’s website.

 

Interview by Blooming Glen Farm co-owner and farmer, Tricia Borneman.

Bring a gently used cookbook to Blooming Glen Farm Saturday, April 27th at 3:00pm for Blooming Glen Farm’s second annual spring cookbook swap and food tasting adventure. The catch? You must bring a dish to share made from a recipe from the cookbook you are bringing to swap. 

Your cookbooks reflect your changing tastes, so if you no longer indulge in butterlicious cupcakes (really?) or you have one two many vegetarian cookbooks, maybe someone from the community will have just what you’re looking for now. But for sure, one of your well-loved but no longer active cookbooks can find a new home, and you can be inspired by the recipes in someone else’s old favorite. 

If you don’t have a used book on your shelf that you want to swap, check out the local thrift stores, or splurge on a new copy at the bookstore in town!  You may even have a food memoir with recipes in it that you’d like to trade. You may bring a few extras as well, as there will be a surplus trade table. Please try to bring well-loved cookbooks- ones that you would be proud to pass on to a friend.

How will this swap work? To determine the order of cookbook selection, come prepared for some “family feud” style fun. Participants will be broken up into teams to answer fun farm facts and veggie trivia. Winners of each round will select a cookbook to take home, until all cookbooks are gone. (**You must bring a cookbook to leave with one- however, all family members are welcome to participate in the trivia fun.) Tasting will begin promptly at 3:30, trivia and swap begins at 4:00. (**Please arrive around 3:00 to be ready for tasting by 3:30.)

New this year: Children are asked to participate by bringing their three favorite recipes. Photocopy and bring 10 copies of each recipe. Children will assemble their own cookbooks and leave with new favorites.  

Bring to the Cookbook Swap and Food Tasting Adventure:

  • The cookbook you wish to swap.
  • Children can bring 10 photocopies of each of their three favorite recipes.
  • delicious dish for the tasting, to tempt swappers to choose your cookbook. Remember to select a recipe from the cookbook you are swapping away. (Bonus: Tasters’ favorite dish will win a door prize!)
  • A notecard to be displayed with your dish with the following information on it: your name, the name of your dish, the main ingredients, and the name of the cookbook you have brought with you to trade.
  • A beverage and place settings for you and your family.
  • An appetite for farm fun and trivia!!

Come on out and meet other food lovers in our farm community; taste new recipes and leave inspired and ready for the farm season ahead with a new favorite cookbook in hand! Please RSVP to the farm by April 22nd if you will be attending.  Email: info@bloomingglenfarm.com

 

Spring’s been a bit slow getting out of the gate, especially compared to last year, but now it looks like it’s been left by the wayside and summer is pushing its way through. Either way, it’s great weather for planting, and that’s what we’ve been up to out on the farm this week.

The life of the veggies destined for your dinner plate begin with a just a tiny little seed. You can check out this blog post from last Spring to learn more about our seed sourcing choices. Not only do we start all our veggies here from seeds, but we sow them into flats in our greenhouses, then when they are ready, about 6-8 weeks later, we transplant them into the fields.

Why do we transplant almost everything, even sweet peas, sweet corn, beets and green beans? By starting the seed in an organic soil mix in flats in the warm cozy greenhouse, nurturing them with heat and steady water, we are guaranteed almost perfect germination. Putting out healthy strong transplants means they are less susceptible to insect damage and fluctuations in weather, at least during those crucial early stages in the life cycle of the plant

A field of just tranplanted cabbage seedlings.

Starting enough veggies from seed to fill over 30 acres of farm land means lots and lots and lots of weekly seeding, and as you can probably imagine, we need lots of space for those seedlings. This season we officially outgrew our first heated greenhouse that was constructed seven years ago, when we were a much smaller farm. So this winter we converted a second greenhouse by adding a heating system, fans, and lots of benches.

Our unflappable crew member, Brian Smyth, manages our propagation greenhouse- every week he consults the planting chart and gets busy filling flats with soil and seed. The seeding is all done by hand, but most of the time he has the help of an amazing (though loud) time saving tool- a vacuum seeder. In addition, at least twice a day Brian’s in and out of the propagation greenhouses watering the seedlings. Our grafted tomatoes in particular require special attention- frequent light misting as their cuts heal and they begin their journey in the next week toward being transplanted into our unheated tunnels. Click here to read a more detailed blog post on tomato grafting from 2011.

Tomato graft healing chamber; Sam grafting tomatoes

After our transplants become rootbound, they head to a cold frame to be “hardened off”- here they are exposed to a bit of wind, colder weather, and less frequent watering, but they are still protected a bit. This is the transition phase before they are singled out and set into the harsh life out in the field, where they will remain until harvest.

So what got planted this hot busy week? Into the ground went thousands of transplants: tuscan and red russian kale, chinese cabbage, red cabbage and green cabbage, sugar snap peas, broccoli raab, spinach, swiss chard, tatsoi, bok choy and head lettuce. Sometimes, but rarely, we skip the transplant phase entirely and seed directly into the ground in the field. Our old faithful red tractor, the CUB, came out of its winter slumber, and driven by Farmer Tricia, sowed carrots, spring radishes and hakurei turnips.

Thousands of small onion sets were planted by hand for early spring onions. Ten varieties of potato seed- 2,900 pounds total- were prepped, planted and hilled. 

Prepping potato seed for planting; Planting potatoes that will be hilled.

This season’s apprentices started April 1st and dove right into the action. After a day in the office of orientation, Food Safety training, and then a Tractor Safety class (“scare ’em safe”, that’s our motto!), they were eager to get their hands, and clothes, dirty on the farm. I must admit, I’m feeling especially great about this season’s crew- they are one enthusiastic, hardworking, awesome bunch of folks. You’ll learn more about them all in our upcoming crew profiles, but rest assured, there are already plenty of smiles (and sore muscles) behind your food, and this is just the beginning!

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Additional photos by farm apprentice Rebecca Metcalf and Farmer Tom.

Lisa Miskelly joins our crew for the 2013 season. Not just a farmer, but a wonderful writer as well, I asked her to introduce herself to our Blooming Glen Farm community, and speak a bit about her journey into farming- below you will find her response. We look forward to hearing more from her on the Blooming Glen Beet this season!

Beet Harvest at Orchard Hill Farm, Ontario.

“My story into farming seems to echo that of so many young and beginning farmers in this up-and-coming generation who comprise the local food “movement;” my tale follows the same trend, the same thread of being called to the land, the outdoors, the work of physical stamina and mental flexibility, the care of plants, animals, and soils, the enriching of a community through strengthening the local economy, the growing of nutritious food to inspire culinary creativity and highlight the rich flavors of the earth, and the desire for food justice.

A Maryland-born-and-raised suburbanite, I began farming 6 years ago in Southeastern Vermont.  After acquiring a degree in Political Theory from a small liberal arts college, spending a summer milking sheep and setting up pasture fencing felt like a welcome relief from the world of reading, writing, and computers.  I didn’t begin the internship on a sheep dairy anticipating I was opening a new career-path for myself, but by the end of the season I found myself smitten, enveloped into the daily cadence of chores and milking, the necessity of early morning work, the tiredness of my body at the close of each day, and the taste of such delicacies which were a product, in part, of my labor. 

While I have always loved cooking, learning about, eating, and sharing food, growing and raising food brought this love to a new level of infatuation and understanding.  I believe the sharing of food with friends and family unites people through the bond of caring for the physical health and well-being of one another, while allowing for us to slow down, listen to one another’s stories, and gather in appreciation of digestion and digression, cooking and conversation.  Bringing children and young adults into the realities of food’s source—carrots pulled up out of the ground, milk still warm from the udder—and the work required to grow and raise those carrots and cows offers them an understanding of the practical purposefulness of work and a delight in the farm food they eat.

After my first season farming, I spent the next five years traversing the diverse world of small-and-medium-scale farming in the North-East, spending seasons working on farms with a variety of approaches and focuses: hand, horse, and tractor-scale vegetable production, farm-based education, cow and sheep dairying, and draft-horse powered grain-growing and hay-making. 

Horses Sunny and Kate discing with Lisa at Great Song Farm in Milan, NY

These experiences have now brought me to join the community of farmers at Blooming Glen where I continue my farm-education, to work amidst a group of talented and high-energy growers on a scale much larger than I have ever farmed before—seeking to learn tractor skills and experience first-hand the benefits of diverse marketing (selling vegetables through wholesale, CSA, and farmer’s markets).  Three weeks in, I am in admiration of the efficiencies of growing on such extensive acreage, excited to observe and learn the finesses of managing land, people, and production, and trying my best not to be too intimidated by how much work we are going to collectively accomplish in the coming eight months.  The propagation houses are full of germinating seeds and plants ready for transplanting, Tom has already started Spring plowing, and our crew of workers seems to be growing in number each week: Summer, here we come!

Winter scallion harvest at Blooming Glen Farm.

Farming provides me with a livelihood which fulfills my physical need for healthy food, food which retains its connection to its source—the land on which it was grown and the farmers who grew it.  I farm to remain connected with my body, to feel the strength and soreness of my muscles as a result of my work each day.  I farm to awaken my spiritual connection with the Earth, the elements, and the unknown.  I farm to be nourished by the visceral challenges of working with living beings and uncontrollable forces, to be confronted with my limitations in the face of environmental conditions.  I farm to find my place in service to, and in being served by, a community of growers, consumers, producers, share-holders, and friends, as we together partake in the intoxicating adventure and delight of seasonal eating.  I farm to practice the crafts of listening, learning, and paying attention.

I look forward to meeting all of you in the season before us—to help to grow food for you and your families, learn your favorite recipes and share some of mine, and join you in this Blooming Glen Farm Community. 

In Celebration of Spring, (Happy Equinox!)”

Lisa Miskelly

So what’s the deal with pea shoots anyway? Their delicate leaves, curly-cue tendrils and succulent stems are popping up everywhere: at farmers markets, in CSA shares, and at your local health food stores. Pea shoots have long been prominent in Asian cuisine, but there are a few reasons for their newfound popularity.

For one, tender pea shoots tempt us with the promise of Spring, and with it warm weather and spring vegetables harvested from newly awakened soil. Even better, with a kid-friendly delicious flavor, pea shoots taste like fresh-from-the-vine peas, but much younger and sweeter.

Another reason they’ve become so popular is those crafty farmers of yours are always looking for something they can grow quickly and easily. Pea shoots offer the flavor of a pea, but can be harvested in just 10-21 days, depending on the time of year. At Blooming Glen Farm they are grown in trays of soil, on benches in a heated greenhouse, providing a nutrient dense crop that can be succession grown through the cold winter months.

So how nutritious are these little sprouts?  For just 10 calories and no fat, take a look at the nutrients in 2 cups of raw pea shoots: 35.5% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, 15% of Vitamin A, 8.75% of Vitamin E, 132% of Vitamin K, 10.5% of Folate, 5.75% of Thiamin, 7% of Riboflavin, and 4.75% of Vitamin B-6. Pea shoots are also packed full of carotenes— strong antioxidants that protect cells from damage and help prevent certain diseases.

So now that we’ve established that they are both nutritious and delicious, how do you cook with them? Most simply- enjoy raw in a fresh salad; they can take the place of lettuce or simply enhance any mix of greens with the pea shoot’s spring flavor. I love to add toasted walnuts, dried cherries and cranberries, and a warm vinaigrette, or for a quick side, serve a mound of pea shoots with just a squeeze of lemon. You can also easily swap them in for any soft, leafy green in a recipe- they cook very similar to baby spinach. Lightly stir-fry them with sesame oil and garlic or wilt them into any pasta dish or risotto, contributing a bright fresh taste. Another option: add pea shoots to a soup or scrambled eggs near the end of the cooking time. Check out our blog for a recipe for flatbread topped with butternut squash, goat cheese and pea shoots or Ensalata di Roso (Rice salad) with Pea tops.

To prepare and store pea shoots, there are just a few things to know. As a delicate green, it’s best to eat them within just a few days of purchase. They should be stored in the fridge like you would lettuce; and when ready to eat, coarse or yellow stems removed, and the pea shoots rinsed in cold water and drained to let dry.

This time of year, Blooming Glen Farm’s pea shoots can be found at the Easton Farmers Market Winter Mart on Saturdays from 10-1pm at the Nurture Nature Center, and at the Bucks County Foodshed Aliance’s Wrightstown Winter Farmers Market on the fourth Saturday of the month from 10-11am. And thanks to a new Healthy Eating Initiative spearheaded by a committed parent, pea shoots from Blooming Glen Farm made their way to the salad bar last week at Durham Nockamixon Elementary School in Palisades school district. A few new pea shoot converts were made!

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Ensalata di Rosa photograph by Kate Darlington.

We’re excited to announce that Outstanding in the Field  is returning to Blooming Glen Farm for the third time, on Saturday, September 22. Chef Josh Lawlor from The Farm and Fisherman in Philadelphia will be cooking the night’s meal. The Farm and the Fisherman was a 2012 James Beard semifinalist for “Best New Restaurant” in America, and was ranked #4 out of the 50 Best Restaurants in Philadelphia: 2013 by Philadelphia Magazine. Tickets go on sale on March 20, the first day of Spring! Tickets for these events sell out quickly- last year’s dinner sold out in 24 hours! Join the OITF mailing list to get updates leading up to the release date.

September 2012 – Blooming Glen Farm. Photo Credit Jim Deneven

Outstanding in the Field is a roving culinary adventure following the sun and the seasons east across the country, setting their long table in fields, barns, beaches, ranches and vineyards. Their mission is to promote local food and agriculture and get people out to the farm to see where their food is coming from and meet and celebrate the producers and food artisans. Almost all the food for the dinners are sourced locally, sometimes within inches of your seat. Their long table has graced farms from Hawaii to Florida, and even has headed oversees to partner with the esteemed chefs at the famous Noma restaurant in Denmark. (Read about it in their blog.) This year, they will take their long table to 34 states and 3 Canadian provinces for a total of more than 80 events. And Blooming Glen Farm in Bucks County is one of them! The last two dinners at Blooming Glen Farm drew people from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. Join us in the field for a farm dinner experience not to be missed. Tickets available on the Outstanding in the Field website on March 20.

Greens, glorious greens!It’s a gray February and we’re smack in the middle of winter, the colorful and nutritious Blooming Glen Farm bounty providing only a distant memory of warmer and tastier times… sigh. This time of year can be a real downer!  Lucky for us, there’s an easy way to boost our winter wellness while we await the new CSA season: Greens, glorious greens.

We’ve espoused the value of greens here before, and we’re happy to do it again. Simply put, there’s no better or easier way to boost your diet than to add some dark, leafy greens. They provide cancer-fighting vitamins and minerals, the fiber we need for heart and digestive health, and assistance to our body’s detoxification processes. All of which helps us feel lighter, gives us energy, and protects our health, making them an important element to winter wellness.

Of course, nothing beats Blooming Glen Farm greens- they have some limited offerings at the Easton Farmers Market winter mart, but during this coldest time of year, if your farms or markets don’t have any, supermarket offerings will do ;). Common varieties of greens found at the grocery store include collards, kale, mustard greens, arugula, spinach, escarole, and Swiss chard. Here in the blog, you can check out several greens recipes, listed below. There’s also a great “Guide to Leafy Greens” at RealSimple.com, and an informational post on greens (nutrition and variety info, how to select, store and prepare, links to recipes, etc.) on the Guidance for Growing website.  Surf the resources and recipes and commit to adding an extra serving of greens to your diet to help ward of the winter blahs!

Blooming Glen Farm Beet greens recipes:

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

The real winners of Blooming Glen Farm’s third annual pie bake-off contest were all of us tasters who had the chance to sample the 15 mouth-watering pie entries, including “Green Tomato Cranberry Maple”, “Wild Foraged Paw-Paw”, “Asian Pear and Ginger”, “Butternut Squash and Pecan”, “Chocolate Almond Custard Pear” and “Crab Apple”. With almost 100 people tasting and voting, the following three pies were the top winners.

Maple Custard Pie with Candied Bacon, by Michelle Guerriero, First Place and the trophy winner!

First place winner Michelle with the trophy, to be held for one year and passed on to next year's winner

“I love cooking, but have less of a passion for baking. As I pondered the type of pie I was going to bake for the contest, I decided to join my two favorite flavor profiles in cooking: sweet and savory. Somehow candied bacon came to mind. Slowly, the creation started coming together. I thought, ‘what goes better with bacon than maple?’ Voila: Maple Custard Pie with Candied Bacon was conceived. I didn’t plan to put the whipped cream on, but I had extra heavy cream, so I whipped it up with some maple syrup and nutmeg. I’m glad I did, as I think it made a ‘light’ (not ‘lite!’) element to the pie. I will admit, I played a little dirty including bacon in my pie. I mean, who can lose with bacon?! In any case, I’m glad people liked it. It gives me some motivation to cultivate my baking skills!”- Michelle Guerriero

Pie Crust:
1 1/2 cups organic flour
1/2 cup lard (I used Ledamete Grass Farm’s lard)
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons ice cold water

Add flour and salt in food processor, pulse. Add lard, pulse until blended. Add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time until pearl-size beads form. Dump on lightly floured surface, roll into ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour. Take out, roll, then mold into pie pan.

Filling (from smittenkitchen.com):
3/4 cup maple syrup (organic)
2 1/4 cup heavy cream (organic)
4 egg yolks (organic)
1 whole egg (organic)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (organic)

In a medium saucepan, bring maple syrup to a low boil. Stir in cream and bring to simmer, making small bubbles form on side, but do not bring to a full rolling boil. Remove from heat.

In a standing mixer (or by hand, if you choose), whisk together egg yolks and egg. Add vanilla extract, salt and nutmeg. Keeping the whisk at a medium-high speed, slowly add the cream mixture to the eggs. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve and pour the hot mixture into your pie crust.

Bake at 325 degrees until firm to touch but jiggles slightly when moved, about 30-45 minutes (depending on the depth of pie it could be longer). Let cool to room temperature.

Whipped cream:
heavy cream (organic)
maple syrup (to taste)
grated nutmeg (to taste)

Whip until soft peaks form.

Candied bacon:
8 pieces of thinly sliced bacon or pancetta (I used all-natural pancetta from Whole Foods)
maple syrup (organic)
brown sugar (organic)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In one bowl, pour about 1 cup maple syrup. In a separate bowl, add approximately 1 cup brown sugar. One at a time, dip the bacon in the maple syrup, removing excess syrup from bacon with your fingers, then dip in the brown sugar to coat. Place on baking sheet with non-stick foil or parchment paper. Repeat with all pieces (doing two batches if there’s not enough room on the pan). Place parchment paper over top of the bacon and top with another cookie sheet. This will help keep the bacon flat while baking.

Place in oven for about 20 minutes. Check under top layer of parchment paper for doneness. They should be golden and done (not fatty). If they still look “fatty,” just give them more time. Remove and place on a separate piece of parchment paper. They will firm up more as they dry and the maple/brown sugar hardens.

To assemble:
When pie is cooled to room temperature, add whipped cream on top in a layer. Then add crumbled bacon over whipped cream (you could even place one piece of bacon per slice for presentation).

Almond Pear Pie with Raspberry Glaze by Bernadette Rodrigo, Second Place.

“I developed this recipe by mixing components from various sources. I chose to use pears because they are a wonderful seasonal fruit and often over shadowed by apples. I wanted to duplicate the rich almond filling found in European pastries and the raspberry glaze gives this pie an extra burst of fruit flavor.”- Bernadette Rodrigo

The pie tasting line.

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-inch 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 butter forming the dough into a ball. Flatten into a disc. Wrap and refrigerate.

Poached Pears:
1 cup sugar
4 cups water
1/4 cup raspberry preserves
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
4 pears, peeled, halved and cored

Combine first four ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then lower to a slow simmer. Add pears and simmer 10 minutes. Turn off heat and allow pears to soak 10 more minutes. Then remove pears from pot and allow them to cool. Reserve poaching liquid.

Filling:
1/2 cup blanched almonds, finely ground
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoons dark rum
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract

Mix all ingredient until well combined.

To assemble:
Roll out pastry dough into pie pan. Cover with almond filling. Slice pears and arrange on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Crust and filling will brown. While pie bakes make glaze.

Raspberry Glaze:
3/4 cup raspberry preserves
2 tablespoon poaching liquid

Combine in sauce pan over low heat. Stir to incorporate ingredients. When mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat. Use a pastry brush to gently paint glaze over hot pie. Allow pie to cool completely. Enjoy!

Pecan Pie, by Corbin Williams, Third Place.

A classic, Corbin’s pecan pie comes from his mother’s recipe. It arrived at the contest still warm and gooey from the oven.

Apple Caramel Pie with Pecans by Meredith Stone

Pastry for one 9-inch pie crust
3 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
1 cup dark or light corn syrup
1 cup pecan halves or broken pecans

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare pastry. Combine eggs, sugar, salt, butter and syrup; beat thoroughly. Stir in nuts. Pour into pastry-lined pie pan. Bake 40-50 minutes or until filling is set and pastry is nicely browned. Cool and enjoy.