Author: bloomingglenfarm

We’re excited to announce that the Outstanding in the Field bus is returning to Blooming Glen Farm on Sunday, September 23. Chef Mitch Prensky and his crew from Supper in Philadelphia will be manning the field kitchen again. Tickets go on sale on March 20, the first day of Spring! Tickets for these events sell out quickly- anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 weeks. Join the OITF mailing list to get updates leading up to the release date.

Outstanding in the Field is a roving culinary adventure that travels around the country setting their long table in fields, gardens, beaches, barns 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 the producers. 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.) And now they’re coming back to Bucks County! Last years dinner 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.

It’s almost March- I guess on most other years it would be already! As busy as we’ve been, it kind of feels like this leap day, we get a “free” day. It’s been an incredibly mild winter- I don’t need to tell anyone it feels like Spring. Tom was able to work up some ground yesterday to get ready to plant our onion sets, it’s been that dry. The propagation greenhouse underwent a makeover. Thanks to some “new” used greenhouse benching, our flats now actually lie flat- no more wavy gravy, which means less water pooling and more even germination. Today the onions are being seeded, and already you’ll see tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, kale, swiss chard, kohlrabi and cabbage sprouting in the greenhouse flats.

Garlic sprout

One of the great things about Blooming Glen Farm is the influx of new faces and energy every season. One of our highly valued missions here at the farm is to mentor and train future farmers. In another month our interns will be joining us, a great new group of young people from Washington, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, as well as Kate, returning for another year from Colorado. You’ll be hearing more about all of the new farmers joining us this season, so you can have an idea of the many hands behind the harvest headed for your dinner plate. Our skeleton crew of employees has been busy these past few weeks, seeding, working on construction projects and winter repair, and thinning out the thick blanket of straw that covered the garlic all winter, so that the new pale green garlic shoots can poke through. Our early crew consists of: Jillian Herschlag, our assistant manager, returning for year three; Brian Smyth newly engaged and returning for year two and a half; and a new face on the farm, Brandon Grossman.

Brandon, 24, comes to Blooming Glen Farm with a few years of experience working on a farm on Mount Desert Island in Maine that he started with his girlfriend’s family. Together they ran a small CSA and market garden, growing throughout the summer and into the cold winter months in Maine using a wood heated greenhouse for season extension.

Brandon graduated from Oberlin College with a BA in Neuro-Science. Not too long after graduation, a job in his area of study brought him to Maine. However, he quickly decided to trade in a laboratory of beakers and research for the broader laboratory of farming.

“I think I was initially rebelling from the standard path of what was expected of me- get a degree, get a job in your career path. The idea of what a farmer was- an uneducated tobacco spitter- I wanted to break down those misconceptions. Farming was so different then how I grew up. I grew up eating Wonder Bread and Dunk-a-roos. I was always that kid in class and in the office, fidgeting, and wanting to be outdoors. So I chose to go down a path that would get me outside, living a healthy lifestyle.”

Brandon at his farm in Maine.

However after three years living in a half-insulated shed, struggling to make ends meet and chopping firewood all winter, both his hands and soul grew cold and homesick. He decided to return to Bucks County where he grew up- Brandon attended CB West and when his folks moved to New Hope area, he graduated from New Hope Solebury High School.

“Most of the things I learned about farming were self-taught, through trial and error. I’m ready to learn farming from professionals, and be closer to family.”

When Brandon’s not at the farm, you can find him and Chad, his close friend and identical twin brother, on Sundays down in Suburban Station in Philadelphia playing music to the subway riders. Brandon comes from a very musically gifted family. Lately you’ll find him on guitar and his brother on ukulele, both doing the vocals, but Brandon also plays the saxophone, drums and ukulele. We’re happy to have him on the farm!

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. 

Surrounded by seed catalogs, and a revised copy of last year’s 15 page planting chart, we cull together the seed order for 2012. Spread out before us are a few choice catalogs from our favorite seed companies, as well as a few that we like for their descriptions and photos, (but not necessarily their pricing!). Within these pages are contained hundreds of varieties, some depicted with simple black and white line drawings others with glossy photos of the ideal harvest. While we have our tried and true favorites that we grow every year, the catalogs always entice us with new and interesting selections. Often times these new varieties come with outrageous claims of high yields and perfect fruits (we know better). We select varieties with great flavor, that meet the needs of our climate, our soil and our particular disease and insect pressures, while also taking into account what has worked for us in the past, and what other farmer friends have recommended.

Another important consideration when we order seeds is the origin and production of those seeds. As organic growers we always look first for organic seeds. The majority of our seeds are ordered from Johnny’s Selected Seeds (Albion, Maine) and from Seedway’s Untreated and Organic Vegetable Seed catalog (Elizabethtown, Pa). We also fill in with seed from places like Fedco and The Maine Potato Lady.

Organic Beet Seed

Lucky for us the seed companies we order from have begun to increase their breeding efforts (done through traditional breeding methods) with the specific needs of organic growers in mind.

As a certified-organic grower and handler, Johnny’s Selected Seeds is able to offer a wide selection of organic seeds produced on its own farm as well as from numerous seed producers worldwide, often from universities like Cornell (developers of our favorite winter squash, bush delicata) and North Carolina State.  If you are confused about traditional plant breeding vs. genetic engineering, take a look at this great page on Johnny’s website where they talk about some of their traditional plant breeding trials. Johnny’s does not sell genetically modified seeds and it does not breed new varieties using genetic engineering. Rather, it breeds plants using traditional methods, a slow and painstaking process that can take eight years or more from the first selection to seed sales. One of the results of their breeding trials, Sunshine, is our favorite winter squash.

Even when an organic selection is not available, we make sure to purchase from seed companies that have signed the Safe Seed Pledge.  Johnny’s Selected Seeds was one of the original signers of the Safe Seed Pledge in 1999. Johnny’s presents the Safe Seed Pledge as follows:

Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners, and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically-engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families, or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing are necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically-engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and, ultimately, people and communities.”

In Seedway’s Untreated and Organic Seed catalog it states: “All varieties in this catalog are developed and produced by traditional methods. None of the items have been genetically modified and, to the best of our knowledge, none of this seed has been contaminated with any genetically modified material. We are certified as an Organic Handler by “PCO”, Pennsylvania Certified Organic”.

The good news is, at this time, very little genetically modified vegetable seed has been developed, and it is unlikely that you would “accidentally” purchase any. Buyers of GMO varieties are forced to sign technology-use agreements. The only GMO vegetable crops currently available are sweet corn, sugar beets and a few summer squashes. Sugar beets are grown to be made into sugar (and are white and shaped more like a lumpy turnip), not to be confused with your standard veggie garden variety red beet. It is the store bought processed food, with added sugar, that you have to watch out for.

Check out this article on the Rodale website from February 2011, when shortly after de-regulating GMO alfalfa, the USDA announced it was allowing farmers to begin planting “Roundup-Ready” GMO sugar beets without a completed environmental impact study (EIS), in order to avoid a “shortage of U.S. sugar”. According to Michael Hansen, PhD, chief scientist at Consumer Union, 54 percent of U.S. sugar comes from sugar beets. This decision appears to be less about science and more about marketing – and Monsanto’s monopoly on seeds. Here’s another great article on the website Red Green and Blue: Environmental politics from across the spectrum, talking about how Monsanto’s GMO seeds already dominate the entire US corn, soy, and cotton crops and essentially the sugar beet market; 93% of soy, 86% of corn, 93% of cotton, and 93% of canola seed planted in the U.S. in 2010 were genetically engineered.  Yet as recently as 2008, sugar beet farmers relied exclusively on traditionally bred seeds; the GM ones weren’t commercially available. Two years later, GM seeds dominate the market.

Beyond its potential to contaminate organic seed, what’s the big fuss about round-up ready crops? It’s glyphosate, the key controversial ingredient in the top selling herbicides used worldwide. Check out this article: Cancer cause or crop aid? Herbicide faces big test.

Back to vegetable seeds. One common assumption is that you need to buy strictly heirloom or open-pollinated varieties in order to avoid GMO’s. Not so. Hybrid vegetable seeds can also be non-GMO as well as all certified organic seed (which can be either heirloom/open-pollinated or hybrid). For us, the best bet is dealing with seed companies who take this topic as seriously as we do, and are transparent about their beliefs, whether it be through signing the safe seed pledge, or by periodically testing their seed stock for cross- contamination.

Even Fedco Seed Company, which test their sweet corn and beet seed for transgenic contamination, states: “We do not knowingly use any *transgenic varieties. (**Transgenic means to introduce the genetic code of one species into another. Transgenic plants are sometimes referred to as “genetically modified (GM)” or “genetically engineered (GE)”.) Please note the word “knowingly”. Because of the possibility of contamination, over which we have no control, our pledge necessarily stops short of being an absolute guarantee.”

That is the unfortunate reality of the times we live in and why it is important for all of us to stay aware of one of the greatest experiments in human history. Unfortunately, hundreds of farmers have been sued by Monsanto for patent infringement. Many of those farmers wanted nothing to do with Monsanto’s GMO crops, but because of pollen drift their crops are being cross-contaminated.

Save the Seeds

Something to keep an eye on is a lawsuit brought against Monsanto by 83 co-plaintiffs- encompassing a broad range of agricultural organizations, organic certifiers, family farmers and seed growers who all could potentially be damaged by the uncontrolled spread of transgenic seeds and their unchecked potential to contaminate conventional and organic seed crops. 

Monsanto’s motion to dismiss the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) et al v. Monsanto will be heard in federal district court this morning, Tuesday January 31, 2012 in Manhattan. Judge Naomi Buchwald’s decision will establish if organic farmers are to see their day in court. 

Education and awareness are the tools we possess as farmers to maintain the integrity of our seeds and our fields. We are lucky to have seed sources that share our concerns about the spread of transgenic food crops.  However, it is ultimately up to the consumer to be aware of the power of a corporation like Monsanto to exert control over our food supply through its very base, the seeds.

Written by Tom Murtha and Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen Farm

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.”

To make this low-tech lacto-fermented sauerkraut, no special equipment is necessary, just a couple of jars with lids. For the veggies in this recipe, visit Blooming Glen Farm this weekend at the Wrightstown Mini-Market on Saturday, January 14th from 10-11am. They will have available their super sweet greenhouse grown carrots, field cabbage and more!

Shredded Cabbage

Chop fine 1 medium-large green cabbage (or equivalent).
Shred one carrot (optional) and mix in with the cabbage in a big bowl.
Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of natural, non-iodized sea salt over the veggies and stir it in. Taste a piece of cabbage– it should taste good and salty, like the ocean. If not add more salt.
Add 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds and a few juniper berries (optional).

With a mallet or potato masher, pound your cabbage in the bowl for several minutes until it is nice and bruised to help water escape. Let rest for a few minutes with a plate and weight on top, go back and pound for a few minutes, and so on. When the mixture is too watery to pound well, you’re ready to jar it.

In 2 or 3 wide-mouth quart jars (or whatever size jars you have), pack in your kraut mixture as firmly as you can. You can do this with clean hands or handy kitchen utensils. Pour the remaining liquid equally into the jars. There should be enough liquid to cover your cabbage– if not, make a little more salty water and pour it in. Be sure to leave a couple of inches of head space at the top of each jar because kraut needs room to expand– otherwise it will fizz cabbage juice all over your counter top or even worse, your jar will explode. When everything is packed in and submerged, screw on your lids. 

Leave the kraut to ferment on your countertop for 3-5 days (or more depending on taste). It will ferment faster in warmer weather. Check on the contents every day or so and mash the cabbage back under the liquid with a spoon. It should smell cabbagy but sweet– an offensive rotting odor means your ferment has gone awry and you’ll need to start over– try more salt or liquid next time, which helps favor the beneficial lactobacilli bacteria that do the fermentation magic.

When the kraut is to your liking store it in the fridge where it can last several months.

Recipe submitted by Grace Rollins.
Grace Rollins, M.S., L.Ac. is a licensed acupuncturist and a candidate for certification as a Nutritional Therapist. She is the owner of Bridge Acupuncture and Natural Health in Doylestown, PA (, leader of the Bucks County Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation (, and an avid cook, athlete and martial artist. She joined her first CSA in 2002.

This story is the second in a series of articles written by various Blooming Glen Farm CSA members. Please enjoy this submission from CSA member Grace Rollins of Bridge Acupuncture.

It seems like there are ads everywhere for the flu shot these days. Most of us can avoid the flu naturally, or can recover in a normal way from the flu when afflicted. The occasional cold or flu can even be a cleansing event for the body, helping to maintain good health in the long run. A healthy person will fight off colds or flu with ease; inability to do so is a sign of imbalance.

What can you do holistically to strengthen your immune system? To start, there are certain foods known for their immune-enhancing and anti-microbial properties, for example:
Raw, local honey (if you put it in hot tea it will be tasty but no longer raw, so somewhat less beneficial)
Chicken broth and fat (there is now scientific basis to this folk medicine! It has to be naturally pasture-raised chicken to get the most benefit. Simmer the bones from your locally bought bird for 7-24 hours for a highly nutritious broth!)
Coconut oil (take a tablespoon of extra virgin oil to prevent or treat colds) and coconut milk (great for soups and smoothies!)
Ginger, garlic, and scallion (great for soups and stir-fries)
Fermented, cultured foods (like sauerkraut, kimchee and kombucha– help supplant your body’s healthy microbial flora and fight off pathogenic yeasts and bacteria)
Apple cider vinegar (a little mixed in water makes a great tonic drink– use it to gargle for a sore throat)

Fall crops

My favorite tonic food is a good soup made with a quart or two of home-made chicken bone broth, a can of organic coconut milk, garlic, ginger and onion, some cut-up veggies and a squeeze of lemon. Garnish with cilantro or scallion. Delicious, and a strong immune booster!

The many special herbs that can be taken as tea or tinctures to enhance immunity include the famous echinacea, goldenseal and/or astragalus. These can be found in any health food section. My favorite vitamin for preventing or treating colds is a good old Vitamin C and Zinc lozenge.

Getting enough sleep and exercise is crucial for your immune system, as is avoiding stress and depleting foods like sugar, white flour and processed foods. You may find over-the-counter medications or that tempting course of antibiotics unnecessary if you simply rest and eat pure good food for a day or two.

Last but not least, acupuncture and moxibustion can be very helpful for strengthening the immune system, especially if you have a track record of frequent colds/flu or have a hard time getting over an illness. Studies show that acupuncture and moxibustion (the burning of mugwort to stimulate acupoints with heat) have a strong effect in enhancing immune-cell function in the body, even in those with immunocompromised conditions. The folk medicine techniques of cupping and gua sha (cutaneous friction), extremely popular in the Far East, are also something I use frequently in clinic to help my patients clear out fevers, coughs and congestion.

I always reserve pharmaceutical drugs as a very last resort, because they typically mask symptoms and create more problems down the road. Plus there are so many effective “natural flu shot” remedies out there. Since dedicating myself to this approach, I haven’t had to use antibiotics in over 15 years and at most get a minor cold once or twice a year. More than anything I attribute my healthy immune system to eating a nutrient-dense diet year-round, full of organic veggies, healthy fats like butter, coconut and olive oil, fish, pastured eggs and grass-fed meats. The foundation of good health is always high quality organic food, so support your local CSA and organic farms!

Submitted by Grace Rollins.
Grace Rollins, M.S., L.Ac. is a licensed acupuncturist and a candidate for certification as a Nutritional Therapist. She is the owner of Bridge Acupuncture and Natural Health in Doylestown, PA (, leader of the Bucks County Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation (, and an avid cook, athlete and martial artist. She joined her first CSA in 2002.