Blooming Glen Farm | Community Connections
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Community Connections

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the one above consists, in part, of these: sweet, tart, juicy, crunchy, crisp, aromatic, sugary-tart, rich, velvety, smile, slurp.” ~Lisa Kerschner, North Star Orchard

My mouth is already watering in anticipation! We are super excited to be able to offer this incredible add-on to your vegetable share in 2017: a 12-week CSA Fruit Share membership from our friends at North Star Orchard, which you’ll be able to pick up here at the farm on your CSA day! The share will start in August, but registration fills up fast, so sign up now (directly with North Star Orchard) to reserve your spot for weekly delivery to Blooming Glen Farm. CSA Members of North Star have been enjoying the Fruit Share for many years, and we think you will too! We encourage you to take a look at what their share has to offer here:

Farmers Ike and Lisa Kerschner started North Star Orchard in 1992. They met while fellow students at Penn State. While still in college, they started their first apple breeding project, growing baby trees in their apartment. Their business has grown over the past 20 plus years into a thriving fruit and vegetable farm located on 20 acres in Cochranville, Pa, in Chester County. One of the apple varieties they developed in that apartment in college, Monolith, is currently being grown in the orchard and sold at farmers’ markets.  We met tie-dyed clad Ike a number of years ago when we had neighboring booths at the Headhouse Farmers market in Phila. We would always look forward to the arrival of this mad scientist of fruit, and subsequently the addition of their delicious offerings to our diet.

This is not ordinary fruit, but unique and heritage varieties which are full of flavor: plums with pizazz, perfect peaches, amazing Asian pears, great (seedless) grapes, astounding apples, and a sprinkling of heritage pear varieties. North Star Orchard grows no standard varieties, but rather heritage and super-flavorful varieties which you’ve likely never heard of and will knock your socks off.

Sign up directly with North Star on their website at, or if you need to reach them directly, email Benefits of the fruit share include: a weekly supply of delicious fruit starting at the beginning of August and going for 12 weeks; a balanced mix of different fruits each week to suit the whole family; fantastic varieties selected for flavor; a weekly email detailing varieties, and offering recipes and other information; the ability to add on extras to your weekly delivery if you so desire.

To read what Farmer Ike calls their “certified sensible” growing practices, head over to their website

And for a quick view of North Star Orchard itself, enjoy this 90-second bird’s eye view:

North Star Orchard Fruit Shares delivered to Blooming Glen Farm are only available for Blooming Glen Farm CSA members. You will have the option of picking up your weekly fruit share on Tuesday or Thursday afternoons at Blooming Glen Farm (during regular CSA pick-up hours of 1-7:30pm). So sign up for your veggie share with Blooming Glen Farm (early bird discount is currently in effect!), then check out North Star Orchard’s website and their fruit share!

Post by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.  (Photos provided by Lisa Kerschner, North Star Orchards). Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 11th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.

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.

Thunderstorms have made harvesting tricky business of late. CSA share members start picking up their produce at 1pm, and we start harvesting all that produce at 7am the same day. We will harvest in all kinds of weather- rain, wind, mud, frost, even snow, but not a thunderstorm. We don’t mess around when it comes to thunder and lightning, so we watch the radar and call our crew inside when necessary. This week and the end of last week was the first that storms coincided with our harvest mornings, making the pace a bit more frantic than usual when we could finally get back outside. Luckily the storms blew in and out within an hour, bringing downpours, then cooling temperatures.

CSA share, week 14, 8/14/12

When we weren’t harvesting for the shares or markets, we were harvesting our field of delicata winter squash, getting the ripened fruits out before mud and bugs threatened the crop, and into our warm greenhouse to cure. The butternuts will be the next out of the field- they still need a bit more time, but not much.

Farmer Tom’s direct seeding of fall carrots, winter radishes, and turnips all germinated after the rain, leaving little green strips against the deep red soil. In the pick-your-own flower field, look for the lisianthus. They are in full bloom, and are a real treat- with their delicate petals in various shades of white, purple and pink, they look almost like roses. Lisi’s have a wonderfully long vase life- so pick a bouquet and enjoy!

Delicata winter squash and Lisianthus flower

In other good news, just today we discovered that our delicious bicolor sweet corn crop is ready for picking- hooray!- so most likely the Thursday pick-up group this week, and Tuesday next week will enjoy this bounty, if not longer.

On another note, as part of our mission at Blooming Glen Farm, we feel it is important to spread the word about other farmers practicing sustainable agriculture. For those of you who do choose to eat meat protein, it is important to us that you are able to purchase these products from reputable, local farmers who share our values, and we know that many of you value the opportunity to buy pastured poultry from Ledamete Grass Farm, and sustainably harvest seafood from Otolith. If you are looking for a great local source of grass fed beef, look no further.

Tussock Sedge Farm, our neighbors and landlords, located at 1239 Route 113, across the street from Moyer Road, would like to invite you to stop in at their farm and purchase their direct marketed, totally grass fed beef on the CSA pickup days of Thursday, August 23, 1-5 pm and Tuesday August 28, 1-5 pm.   You have probably noticed their herds of red angus cattle grazing the fields surrounding the CSA when you come to pick up your vegetables.  Owners and operators Henry and Charlotte Rosenberger raise their cows from calves. Their calves are born on their farm (about 100 each year) and over the next 2 years graze their pastures.  They do not feed their cattle hormones or use preventative antibiotics, only grass, organic minerals and salt. 

Tussock Sedge Farm's Red Angus Cattle

Tussock Sedge Farm accepts cash or check and you do not need to pre-order on August 23 and 28.  They will offer you the following to purchase:

  • 12 lb. Sampler Pack for $95. Contents:  5 lbs. of ground beef, 1 lb. of cube beef, 1 pack of chipped steak, 1 roast and at least 3 steaks.  The roasts and steaks vary and they will let you choose between the packs they have available.
  • 1 lb. packs of ground @ $5.00 per lb.
  • 1 pkg. of 6 oz. patties, 4 in a pack, for $7.50.
  • 1 pkg. of 8 oz. patties, 4 in a pack, for $10
  • Liver ($4.), marrow bones, oxtail, heart ($5.)

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Blooming Glen Farm grows over 30 acres of vegetables every season. A lot of those vegetables go to our CSA, which has grown to over 400 participating families. As many of you know, we also attend three weekly farmers markets, sell to a few local restaurants and donate our leftovers to food pantries. But where else does our produce go? We sell a few crops each week to Zone 7.

Zone 7 is a farm fresh-distribution service that connects farmers and chefs.  Based in central New Jersey and named after our agricultural growing zone, Zone 7 works exclusively with the region’s best organic and sustainable farmers in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania to offer fruit, berries, vegetables, mushrooms, eggs, honey, cheese, grain products and other farm-fresh food.  Their mission is to strengthen our local and regional food chain by enabling restaurants, grocers and institutions to buy from and support small and medium-sized sustainable farms. Zone 7’s role is to act as a direct link between farmers and chefs.

Through Zone 7 our veggies end up on the plates of diners at restaurants like Triumph Brewery and Sprig and Vine in New Hope, and Huntley Tavern in Summit, New Jersey.

Kindergarten lessons about hakurei turnips with Chef Kim.

But it’s not just restaurant purveyors who enjoy local veggies. A few weeks ago thousands of Blooming Glen Farm’s hakurei turnips made their way into the hands of children in the West New York school district, thanks to the innovative thinking of Chef Kim Gray, Regional Chef of Nu-Way Concessionaire, the school districts food service provider.

“We at the West New York school district are part of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable grant from the state. We have six elementary school we provide fresh local produce to.  I have been working this year to incorporate more educational learning with the children. I have been going to the classrooms to discuss the produce we are sampling. With the younger grades we talk about the taste, texture, smells, and colors. The older grades we also include how the produce grows and where it comes from. That would be you!!!! It is a great program which we are very proud to be part of. I get all our produce from Zone 7. I feel it is very important to educate the children about why we are called the Garden State”. Chef Kim Gray

Learning about where the Turnips comes from, what they taste like and that you can eat the green leaf tops.

Chef Kim Gray attended the Culinary Institute of America and has been featured on Rachel Ray’s television program and in articles across the state. Chef Gray has overseen the meal programs in the West New York school district for five years. Prior to that she worked in corporate and healthcare food service. Her commitment to children and engaging them in making better food choices shows in the many improvements that have been made to the school’s programs. Chef Kim has been involved in working with the school’s staff to encourage healthy eating habits for their students and is currently working on getting her schools involved in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Healthy U.S. Schools initiative.

“The Kindergarten class and I had so much fun trying Hakurei Turnips!!! What a great class lesson on fresh vegetables.” Chef Kim Gray.

Written by Tricia Borneman, photos courtesy of Chef Kim Gray.

Going to the seafood counter at the grocery store is a downright overwhelming experience, if you ask me. Last time I stopped by to pick up some fish for a recipe, I got so overwhelmed that I nearly left empty handed. Most neighborhood grocers provide little information about the fish they offer. Even when they do offer info about origin or catch method, it’s hard to decipher what it all means– and what is the best for our bodies, our environment, and our budgets. Plus, there’s this business about modern-day slavery aboard fishing vessels in New Zealand that I read about the other week. What the heck is a fish lover to do?

Luckily, at Blooming Glen Farm we’ve got Amanda Bossard, owner of Otolith Sustainable Seafood, in our corner.

Amanda started Otolith in 2007 with her husband Murat, when his fishing boat and business in Alaska were under severe threat of financial ruin. Based on what commercial fish processors were paying per pound for their catch, it was impossible to keep up with boat maintenance, permits, and employee salaries—let alone take in a profit each year.

Murat Aritan and daughter, Isabella in Adak, Alaska

It was then that their accountant gave them the idea to start a fish CSA. Amanda was a member of a Lancaster CSA, and it was easy for her to see how the direct harvest-to-consumer model would work for her family’s fish. Much like the CSA at Blooming Glen Farm, the Community Supported Seafood (CSS) program at Otolith provides a steady and fair income for the fishermen while providing you, the consumer, with the highest quality fresh and sustainable food. And here’s the best part: you can pick up your seafood share right here at Blooming Glen!

Otolith is on a mission to promote sustainable fishing and bring you the best the ocean has to offer. Amanda describes herself at “just a fish snob with two little kids,” but she is much more than that. She is one of the most passionate people I’ve ever talked to, and once you get her started on fish, watch out. With a background in marine biology and over a decade as a fisherman’s wife, she knows what she’s talking about, too. With Otolith, you can be sure your fish is good for the planet, good for your health, and good for the people that catch it.

Otolith has committed to:

1. Eliminating trawling as a fishing gear method. As Amanda told me, the oceans simply can’t sustain the pressure of commercial trawling (that would be the way your run of the mill, grocery store seafood is caught). The ocean does produce an abundant supply of the renewable resource that is seafood, but we’ve got to be responsible in the way we harvest it.

2. Reducing pollution in the oceans. By committing to purchasing from small independent harvesters (including her husband’s boat), Amanda can be certain that the boats catching your fish have a low environmental impact.

3. Creating a new generation of fishers that are concerned with sustainability. Amanda is a firm believer in economic incentive. “I don’t believe in a million years that change can ever come unless it’s in your financial interest,” she says. By providing the CSS model that is economically viable, she is proving that sustainable seafood harvest is in the fishermen’s financial interest as well as moral interest.

The Otolith CSS offers a variety of different options including halibut, rockfish, sablefish, Pacific cod, and Dungeness crab, and wild salmon. All of the fish is sushi-grade, long-line caught in Alaska by small boats, blast frozen and packaged into conveniently sized pieces, and delivered direct to your chosen pick-up location during its appropriate season.

I’m signing up for the salmon share because Amanda said it changed her life—and at $12 a pound, it’s a downright bargain. Which one will you chose?

How to participate:

·      Log on to Otolith’s website and read about your different CSS options.

·      Fill out and send in your enrollment form for one (or more) of the shares.

·      Pick up your sustainably caught seafood at Blooming Glen Farm when you come to pick up your CSA share.

For questions or clarifications about the Community Supported Seafood program or sustainable seafood in general, you can contact Amanda at Otolith by calling 215.426.4266 or emailing

Written by Kate Darlington – Blooming Glen Farm second year intern, Colorado native, and food lover.

Blooming Glen Farm CSA is committed to providing its customers access to not only fresh sustainably grown produce but also to sources of protein raised by farmers who share our values. Our 2012 CSA members will have the option to sign-up for pastured-poultry shares from Ledemete Grass Farm, grass-fed beef shares from Tussock Sedge Farm and sustainable seafood shares from Otolith Sustainable Seafood in Philadelphia, all to be conveniently picked up at Blooming Glen Farm when you pick up your produce. Since one of the wonderful parts of Community Supported Agriculture is the opportunity to get to know your farmers and their stories, this week’s blog post features April and Rob Fix of Ledemete Grass Farm.

Animals, including chickens, turkeys and pigs, at Ledamete Grass Farm (pronounced “Let ‘em Eat”) are raised on pasture in the sunshine and fresh air and fed a grain mix grown by a local farmer who uses organic practices. April and Rob Fix are passionate about what they do, and we feel very fortunate to be able to include them in our CSA community.

Rob and April, tell us about how you first got into farming.

April: Rob and I both traveled far and wide before settling down at Ledamete Grass Farm in Schnecksville, PA.

After graduating with an Environmental Studies degree from the University of Pittsburgh, I apprenticed on a few diversified family farms in Vermont and Virginia. I worked as an Organic Research Assistant on Virginia Tech’s Kentland Farm and as a Farmer/Teacher at the Farm School in Massachusetts. Rob and I met at the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) Conference and brought our lives together shortly thereafter at Fielder Farm, in Central Pennsylvania. There we raised pastured poultry and pork that we sold through CSAs, and we raised a Jersey cow and heifer, for our own milk, butter and yogurt.

Rob: Prior to landing at Fielder Farm, I spent time studying at Penn State, working as a sous chef at fine, local foods restaurants in Scotland and Montana, and hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. Real food, hard work and the great outdoors are at my heart of hearts.

Rob and Tessa

What brought you back to Pennsylvania?

A desire to be closer to family brought us to Lehigh County where we started Ledamete Grass Farm. To keep things exciting we decided to buy a farm, start a business and have a baby all in the same year. And so it began, a few years ago. Tessa Wren, now nearly two, loves life on the farm and is especially fond of collecting “eggies” and placing them carefully into their cartons!

What is it about farming that appeals to you?

Since we first met, we have always loved to sit down together to a beautiful meal brimming with food grown by ourselves or by family and farmer friends. We enjoy the unique personalities of all the livestock and are grateful for the opportunity to be stewards of the animals and the pasture ecosystem where they dwell. Starting a farm from scratch is no small feat, and it’s been many a long day for sure, but the hard work feels worth it when the bellies are nourished and the faces are smiling.

How have the first few years at the farm been?

Now beginning our third season at Ledamete Grass Farm, we are thrilled about all of the improvements we have made to the farm in just our first two years. We recently completed a two-year Natural Resources and Conservation Services (NRCS) Environmental Quality Initiatives Program (EQIP) contract which provided partial funding for several large projects including installing permanent fencing for 15 acres of pasture, digging a water line and installing 5 frost-free hydrants throughout the pasture, creating a gravel access road, and planting a 1/2 acre of native wildflowers as a pollinator habitat. To prevent drainage issues from the new access road, we installed a large swale and catch basin along the road that they will plant with native grasses and trees this spring. New and improved farm structures include a large chick brooder, an on-farm poultry-processing house, an equipment barn and a livestock barn. 

Rainbow at Ledemete Grass Farm

What lies ahead for you?

As we look into the future we see our small family farm thriving, nourishing ourselves and our neighbors with our thoughtfully raised chickens, turkeys, pigs and cows. We plan to expand our specialty products, such as our farm-made turkey and pork sausages. We hope to add a flock of laying hens laying delicious pastured eggs with bright orange yolks. We see a beautiful farm that’s well-cared for; a sustainable business as well as a happy home for ourselves, our children, and our animals.

Thanks Rob and April Fix, of Ledemete Grass Farm!

Click on this link for registration information for chicken shares for the 2012 season, or go to their website for more information.

Written by Joe Coleman.

By reading recent Blooming Glen Farm blogs, we learned that the farmers, Tricia Borneman and Tom Murtha, are busy these days scanning seed catalogs and planning crops for the next growing season. We are fortunate to be neighbors benefiting from their labor to grow wonderful, fresh, nutritious produce.  In addition to managing the farm to provide crops for the CSA members, they are mindful of the need to help relieve hunger.

During the 2011 growing season, I volunteered with the Bucks County Opportunity Council (BCOC) to support Michael Olenick, Food and Nutrition Network Manager, who coordinates 27 food distribution sites. Tricia and Tom offered excess produce to BCOC, and I connected the dots on Monday mornings by picking up the produce at the farm and delivering it to the New Britain Baptist Food Pantry. Another volunteer delivered produce to Pennridge Fish and the Quakertown Food Pantry.

In addition, the congregation at the Doylestown United Methodist Church purchased a CSA share to help those in need. I delivered the produce to the same pantry.  The pantry staff extended the dots and forwarded any excess produce to the Neshaminy Senior Center.

Approximately 95% of the food donated to the New Britain Baptist Food Pantry comes from local sources. I delivered 1,831 pounds of Blooming Glen Farm produce in 2011. Hundreds of clients were thrilled to receive the fresh produce. The pantry staff provided guidance on how to cook the produce, and encouraged the clients to try new meals.  To further help in that regard, a 12 year old Central Bucks student recently prepared a book containing recipes with ingredients typically available in food pantries.

A diet that complies with the Department of Agriculture’s guidelines is unaffordable for many Bucks County residents. For low-income families on a thin budget it’s almost impossible to put healthy and balanced meals on the table. Food pantries are the primary source of fresh fruit and vegetables for low income families. Nearly 97% of food pantry clients go without fresh fruit and vegetables if their food pantry has none.

The Hunger Nutrition Coalition (HNC) of Bucks County conducted a survey during 2011 to understand the current hunger problem in our communities. Based on response from 2,000 families actively receiving county services, 26% of the families skip meals due to a lack of food in the home. Visits to food pantries increased 21% since 2009 while government food resources have declined and became increasingly unreliable. Last year, the New Britain Baptist Pantry provided food to 10,035 people.

Tricia and Tom’s generosity brings us closer to the hope of the harvest. BCOC views the program at Blooming Glen Farm as a wonderful model, and is actively pursuing additional farm-pantry relationships throughout Bucks County. To extend the program, BCOC needs funding to look into purchasing the produce from farmers at reduced cost (currently it is all donated) and they need volunteers to transport the produce to food pantries. For information on donating to the BCOC, click here.

Written by Joe Coleman, a resident of New Britain Twp. since 1975, retired from Johnson and Johnson, father of two grown children and husband to his lovely wife Judy. Joe is currently a volunteer with the Bucks County Opportunity Council.

Written by CSA member Jenny Isaacs.

Although we still have a few ziploc bags of Blooming Glen’s chili peppers in the freezer (I halve, seed, and roast them, then freeze for easy use in recipes year-round) we just consumed the last fresh vegetable from our 2011 CSA share last week: a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin.  January is by no means a record for last-squash-eaten, either: going back through my notes since 2006, I see that there were not one but two occasions where I cooked up the winter squash from our final November pick-up in June of the following year!  Tom & Tricia aren’t kidding when they tell us that squash varieties like Cheese Pumpkin or Blue Hubbard are long-lasting!

I happen to think having a giant squash on my kitchen counter for months on end is quite decorative, though I understand tastes may vary.   Still, there are many less visible ways that the harvest of CSA membership lasts and lasts. 

My family’s journey with Community Supported Agriculture began in 1994 at the Kimberton CSA (founded in 1987, it was the first CSA in Pennsylvania).  We were members there for seven years before moving to Bucks County.  In 2005 we joined the Anchor Run CSA in Wrightstown, then in its 2nd year of operation.  It was a lovely farm, but a 45-minute drive from our home.  We were thrilled when Blooming Glen opened the following year!  As we enter into our fifteenth year of CSA membership, I thought I’d share some of the yields for us beyond our annual share.

* An end to certain vegetable prejudices

Spring Share with Hakurei Turnips

I was not a particularly picky eater growing up, but I hated turnips.  My mom inevitably snuck them into her pot roasts & stews, where they masqueraded as unobjectionable potatoes until I bit into them — blikkkk! 

My very first CSA pick-up introduced me to sweet, white hakurei turnips, so delicious raw that I can seldom bear to cook them (though they’re incredibly tasty sauteed as well).  And turnip greens, it turns out, are my very favorite green of all.  I totally fell in love with those turnips, only to be heartbroken when, a few weeks into the growing season, they vanished from the share tables.  The next year I treasured them all the more, knowing they would soon be succeeded in the harvest cycle. 

Every year the first bunch of early-season turnips, symbol of fleetingness but harbinger of so many good things to come, reminds me of the possibility of profound & surprising transformation in myself. 

* Raising vegetable-prejudice-free kids (mostly)

Years ago we were eating dinner at a restaurant in Doylestown that had a kind of jokey children’s menu.  It claimed to feature nothing that kids don’t like — like spinach and brussel sprouts.  Our youngest was completely baffled:  “Why on earth do they think that kids don’t like spinach and brussel sprouts?” she wanted to know.  “Because they want to sell you chicken nuggets, I guess,” I told her.  She rolled her eyes.  None of my kids will eat chicken nuggets.  They do love turnip greens in their scrambled eggs, though — a lot. 

Unadventurous stages in eating aren’t uncommon, and every kid eventually announces that they don’t like something.  I learned from a wise mom to answer that remark every time with a cheerful, “Well, maybe you’ll like it when you’re [insert their age plus one year]”.  I loved how this gave leeway for growth and change in tastes– indeed, it often seemed to inspire my girls to beat the clock and convert earlier.   Eventually we started calling reversals of taste like my turnip epiphany “turning” a vegetable, as when my middlest announced at age fourteen, “Mom, guess what!  I’ve turned mushroom!” 

I have to admit that not one of the three has turned beet yet, and I’ll tell you why: it’s because down deep, I haven’t turned beet myself.  I’ve probably put fifty pounds of beets on the sharing table over the years.  But I happen to love eggplant, so I make it and everybody eats it, though they all (even my husband) refer to it jokingly as ugh-plant.  Serving up, with love, all the varied produce that our CSA has to offer, meal after meal, year after year, has created flexible eaters who can politely eat even un-favorite vegetables.  They know that something more to their taste will be on the table next time. 

* Developing a totally different style of cooking, eating, and shopping — year-round

I became a much more creative & improvisational cook once dinner no longer consisted of planning a meal, then heading to the grocery store to pick up the needed ingredients.  I’m used to thinking,  “What do we have in the fridge to work with?”  and then manifesting something out of what’s there.  My repertoire of recipes and techniques also expanded rapidly, sometimes because I was presented with vegetables that I would never have bought myself, sometimes because I had to find new ways to cook up familiar ones that turned up week after week after week. 

Our shopping habits have also been permanently affected by our CSA experience.  We rapidly gave up buying out-of-season berries and tomatoes; they didn’t taste as good, and it felt plain wrong to eat them in the winter.  During the cold dark months we now make it a habit to buy fruit that doesn’t grow in Pennsylvania any time of year: oranges, pineapples, bananas and mangos give us a needed dose of tropical sunshine, and we look forward to the return of local peaches & apples in due time. 

Over the course of several years, we also transitioned to buying exclusively organic produce, deciding that we wanted to make a commitment to voting with our food dollar every single time we went to the grocery store.  We spend way more money on food than we used to, and we think it’s completely worth it.  (The real secret to good cooking is high-quality ingredients, as any restaurant professional will tell you.)

Eventually we gave up shopping at chain supermarkets altogether.  Just as Blooming Glen affords the opportunity to get to know Tom and Tricia, and to watch Dakota grow year to year, patronizing our locally-owned health food stores and buying meat from local farms means we know the people we buy our food from in the winter, too.  Where I shop, if I turn up without my kid in tow I get asked,”Where’s Sophie?”   If it turns out that I left my wallet on the kitchen counter, I can even write an IOU!  I don’t think that would fly at the Giant!

* Coping with abundance

I certainly remember feeling a little challenged at first to make it through our share every week.  Going out of town was particularly difficult; now in addition to arranging for pet-sitting, I had to figure out how to cook up or otherwise preserve the vegetables.  I announced to everybody I knew that being in a CSA was more work than having a dog!  

In self-defense, I learned to can tomato sauce and pickle green beans.  I learned to freeze.  I learned, sadly, that dehydrated beets are not tasty at all.   I learned that it is in fact possible to serve greens at every meal.  I put kale in my kids’ macaroni and cheese and turnip greens in their eggs and squash in their muffins.  They gobbled it all down.  Eventually they got so big and ate so much that we never had any problem using up our share — and then two of them got so big that they grew up and moved out. 

Last year I got lapped on my veggies more than once, and learned that I had gotten overly smug about my coping-with-abundance skills.  It’s a cycle, I guess.

* Lessons in patience

Our oldest daughter was a year old when we joined Kimberton CSA, and I was pregnant with the one who would turn out to be our middlest.  Our youngest, who is now nearly 10, was 4 when we first came to Blooming Glen Farm.  Nowadays my very favorite sight in the shed (even more than the beautiful pearly globes and glowing greens of my beloved turnips) is the moms with babies in slings or toddlers in tow — especially the moms with both.

The author's daughter at the farm in 2009, harvesting oregano with a friend.

Seeing children painstakingly counting or weighing out veggies for the share, or eagerly helping pick strawberries, green beans, or cherry tomatoes, brings me back to the days when farm visits lasted at least an hour and sometimes seemed to go on all afternoon.  Bags and baskets fill slowly; walks to the pick-your-own crops are long for little legs; walking back can seem even longer for the mom carrying a tired toddler on a hot day! 

It’s almost impossible to imagine them growing old enough even to play in the children’s garden unsupervised, let alone go off with a pair of sharp shears to cut flowers.  But eventually there might come a day — it did for me, anyway — when your ex-toddler, sporting a brand-new learner’s permit, actually drives you to the farm to pick up your share.  You’ll try not to flinch and gulp too obviously, knowing at this stage they need a lot of practice, not a lot of criticism.  You’ll get out of the car feeling thankful that the ride is over, and wondering whether you’re really going to be able to fake being a calm passenger all the way home. 

You’ll look around.  You’ll see Tom on his tractor, a kestrel overhead, kids crawling through the squash-blossom tunnels in the children’s garden, a woman with a bright bouquet in one hand and a baby on her hip.  You’ll smile at her. 

You’ll go into the shed.  It will smell of tomatoes, arugula, corn.  You’ll start to weigh out your share.  It all goes very quickly when you’ve had a lot of practice.

Fueled by veggies from Blooming Glen, meat from Tussock Sedge, and sustainably-caught fish from Otolith, Jenny Isaacs is the director of Secret Garden Montessori school in Frenchtown NJ and the founder of Bucks County Renewables, a nonprofit devoted to advocating for electric vehicles. 

Enjoy this article by Brian Melito, MD, the fourth in a series of articles written by Blooming Glen Farm CSA members.

I wonder sometimes about my notions about food. Like my thought that eating according to the seasons might be a good idea. That being a good locavore, eating what the land provides, is a healthy and responsible way to live. That was easy in August, but this aint August. Our ancestors, the real locavores, were given little choice in that regard. No Giant or Landis or Whole Foods to go running to when the pantry was looking thin. For them, I imagine, a lot of energy was expended in planning and preparing for the long, harsh time between one harvest and the next.

That’s it, the harvest. No wonder the harvest was given such reverence- it was the sole, fragile link to the next season of plenty, the narrow bridge over a long, cold, deadly sea of time. Our pursuit of food in the U.S. today, by comparison, more resembles sport or hobby- no apparent life or death issues in the mix. We have been blessed with the privilege of choice, the almost unimaginable condition of constant, uninterrupted harvest, 24/7, 365 days a year. This is a great thing, right?

I wonder about the cost of all of this, assuming there might be some cost. So, I go to the internet, that infinite repository of unsubstantiated information, and look at some numbers. I can’t relate to them…

“Americans throw away 200,000 tons of edible food away every day.” Hmmm, and it says an elephant weighs 6 tons, so that’s 33,333 elephants a day… nope, can’t really picture that. Let’s try something else.

“Americans eat 815 billion calories of food per day.” Yikes. Now I’m starting to feel a little bloated. Ok, so forget the internet…

Want a real picture of what it was like long ago? Spend a few hours in an old cemetery, and study the fading headstones. The difference between the old part of the cemetery and the new? Children. Lots and lots of them buried in the old part. Make it to age 5, you were good to go for about the same number of years as anyone living today. But those first few years of life- that’s when a weak harvest or a harsh winter were especially cruel. So that’s what our society set about to fix.

Now fast forward to today: every one of the over 30,000 items in the average supermarket has a pedigree that dates back to times when saving children was of primary importance to the survival of the community. Finding ways to make food available long after the harvest was the goal. Even the packages of chocolate coated, sugar infused, color enhanced, chemically stabilized kid food (“food” used very liberally here) had their origins in a very real and useful purpose: saving our children. Did I hear someone say “oops”?

Did we, maybe, swing the needle a little too far?

All right, give the internet another shot:

30% of American children are obese. In 1980, that number was 7%.

The latest data indicates that our children’s life expectancy is now lower for the first time in many generations. Lower than yours, lower than mine.

Did I hear another “oops”?

Written by Brian Melito MD, Blooming Glen Farm CSA member since 2006 and a gardener since the 1960s.

Friends gather weekly to cook and share the farm bounty. I hope you are inspired as I was by this creative idea from CSA member Judie Much, as well as her wonderful recipe for Roasted Fennel with Parmesan.

When my husband, Dave, and I began thinking about investing in a share at the CSA, we realized that the two of us could not eat all of the food ourselves.  Luckily, we have surrounded ourselves with self-proclaimed “foodie” friends.  At least weekly, this group (can be anywhere from 6-13) gathers for food and fun at one of our houses.  The host usually decides and provides the main part of the entree and the rest of those who attend contribute sides, salad, appetizers, or dessert.  We wondered- would anyone be interested in splitting a CSA share?  Two couples voiced an interest, allowing the share to be divided into thirds. 

In our first year of CSA membership, we divided the share into thirds and our group met as usual on a weekly basis with each of the three of us who had acquired veggies contributing as we saw fit.  But alas, separating our food in this manner really restricted what we could provide for a larger group.  So this past year, the suggestion was made that whoever picked up the share, would plan and create a “CSA Dinner”, generally attended solely by the three couples who owned the share. What a wonderful experience this has been. The food amount is easily sufficient for six, and the items not used are divided between the three couples for the rest of the week (and there was ALWAYS a lot left!).

So what kind of meals did we create?  Space does not permit, nor can I remember all of the wonderful meals we had, but one of our most memorable was early in the season and was hosted and prepared by our friend, Dave.  In our share we found cantaloupe, turnips, zucchini, summer squash, beets, fennel, herbs, and spring onions.

First Course: Dave started the meal with cantaloupe, yogurt, and blueberries. 

Second Course: Grilled chicken, grilled turnips and beets (who knew you could grill slices of raw turnips and beets and have them cook in a few minutes?).  Dave also made a potato salad which included grilled summer squash and zucchini, as well as the potato!  And did you know that if you slice fennel very thin and roast it with olive oil, kosher salt and parmesan cheese, that people eat it like candy?  It’s true!

Dessert course: Grilled cantaloupe in a hot caramel sauce served with Owowcow vanilla ice cream.   What more could you ask for?  Perhaps a recipe?  Needless to say, we will continue this fine tradition this year.

Roasted Fennel with Parmesan

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 45 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 4 to 6

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish.

Take 4 fennel bulbs, and cut horizontally into 1/3-inch thick slices, fronds reserved. Arrange the fennel in the dish. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then with 1/3 cup freshly shredded Parmesan.  Drizzle with 4 tablespoons olive oil. Bake until the fennel is fork-tender and the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Chop enough fennel fronds to equal 2 teaspoons, then sprinkle over the roasted fennel and serve.

Written by Judie Much, a happily retired Oncology Nurse Practitioner who lives in Ferndale, Pa with her husband David. She and David are members of a group of neighbors who love to cook, laughingly called “The Ottsville Eight.”