On The Farm

Since we began farming here at Blooming Glen 15 years ago, I’ve often mused (grumbled?) that our challenging red clay earth is likely better suited for pottery than it is for growing food. Yet every season we manage to harvest thousands and thousands of pounds of crops, proving that despite the heaviness of the soil, we can grow delicious mineral rich food year in and year out. Thanks to an exciting collaboration with Matt Zimmerman of Walnut St Pottery, we can now say with confidence that our farm’s soil is also perfectly suited to the creation of gorgeous pottery. There is something very poetic and affirming to harvest and arrange flowers in a vase made from the earth that nourished their growth (or to eat a soup of vegetables grown on the farm in a bowl made from the soil that grew those vegetables), and I am so grateful for the Zimmerman family for their creativity and efforts to bring this to fruition.

“In our wood kiln we fire pots made from local wild clay. These pots have a wilder and rougher look to them as they endure a more dramatic and harsh journey. There’s something special about holding wild clay in your hands. Food for past generations grew from it. The roots of great trees held it tightly. The rain waters carried it off the field and along the water ways of our community where it eventually found rest in local creek beds. It has stories to tell. These pots were born here and want to connect us with something bigger than ourselves.” Matt Zimmerman, Walnut St. Pottery

Once dug, the Blooming Glen Farm clay was dried in the sun before being re-hydrated, mixed, screened, slacked, then dried to a moldable consistency.

Then comes the making of the pots.

“I take great joy in crafting a lump of earth into a functional vessel for everyday use. For the most part our pots are thrown on the wheel. Some are then trimmed and/or handled. Working with wild clay presents many challenges. You must learn it’s strengths and weaknesses, it’s personality.” Matt Zimmerman

Once all the pots are made and dried they go through the first of two firings call the bisque. This brings the clay pots to the early stages of becoming ceramic. The pots become strong enough to handle comfortably yet remain porous enough to receive a coat of glaze. Walnut St. Pottery glazes are made mostly of ground stone and clay with a little metal oxides to provide color. Because they make all of their glazes they know everything that goes into them, and are 100% confidence in saying they are food safe.

The glaze materials are mixed into water creating a thick liquid which is then applied to the porous pot.  The water is absorbed into the pot leaving a coat of the raw materials on the surface. Any slipware carvings are then created, like the beautiful wildflower designs.

Lastly, the pots and glaze are fired to maturity in a wood fired kiln.

“Our wild clay pots withstand the harsh conditions inside our wood fired kiln. The flames from the fireboxes flow up into the ware chamber, and dance around the pots leaving their mark on the clay. Depending on the clay body being fired we’ll take the wood kiln temperature anywhere from 2300°F to 2400°F. The high temps turn the clay pots ceramic and melt the glaze materials into a glassy surface.”

Matt was surprised at just how different our soil was even from other wild clay he’s harvested in and around Perkasie. The color was a vibrant red, the flames of the fire licking at the iron rich material. These beautiful Blooming Glen Farm wild clay pots will be for sale at the farm in the coming weeks. Larger vases, smaller bud vases, general purpose bowls, berry bowls and mugs. Quantity limited. Prices from $40- $65 each.

Photos and content provided by Walnut St. Pottery. Post by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 16th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.

It’s National CSA Week and the perfect time to talk about an oft overlooked pioneer in sustainable agriculture, Dr. Booker T. Whatley, and his contributions to the genesis of CSA in America.

The credit for the introduction of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) concept – which has led to over 12,000 thriving CSA farms across the country today – most often goes to either European or Japanese models that were first adopted by two farms in the U.S. in 1986 in New England.

In the mid 1960’s in Japan, an idea had blossomed from a group of women concerned with pesticide use, the increase in processed and imported foods, and the corresponding decrease in the local farm population. They called their idea “Teikei” which translates literally as partnership or cooperation, and philosophically as “food with the farmers face on it”, or face to face agriculture.

During this same period, farm cooperatives and mutually-supportive systems of agriculture were gaining popularity in Europe, largely influenced by Anthroposophy, and Rudolph Steiner’s writings on the subject.

The first CSA’s appeared in the U.S. in New England in 1986: Indian Line Farm in Massachusetts, and Temple-Wilton Community Farm in New Hampshire, both of which used the term CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, for the first time.

But as is often the case with African American history, there is an overlooked story that tells us the credit should at the very least be shared with another pioneer whose contributions and ingenuity came years ahead of his time.

Dr. Booker T. Whatley was a prominent African American horticulturist, author and professor, born in Alabama in 1915 (d. 2005). Growing up in the South, Whatley witnessed firsthand the struggles, and subsequent decline, of black farm owners due to racist policies and land theft, and what he saw as an inability to compete with the growing industrialization of agriculture.

“Black people have largely been expelled from the US agricultural landscape. In 1920, nearly a million Black farmers worked on 41.4 million acres of land, making up a seventh of farm owners. Today, only about 49,000 of them remain, making up just 1.4 percent of the nation’s farm owners, and tending a scant 4.7 million acres—a nearly 90 percent loss.” Mother Jones, June 27, 2020

Whatley, the oldest of 12 children growing up on his family’s farm, decided to pursue a career in agriculture. He graduated from Alabama A&M University and, after serving in the Korean War where he was assigned to manage a 55-acre hydroponic farm providing food to the soldiers, he returned to get his doctorate in horticulture at Rutgers University and subsequently began his career as an agricultural professor at Tuskegee Institute (later renamed Tuskegee University).

Whatley’s in-depth work and research at Tuskegee on breeding new sweet potato varieties, small fruits (especially grapes) and honeybees eventually led to what would become a lifelong passion and devotion to helping small farmers develop efficient and financially sustainable operations.

Beginning in the early 1970s, when the prevailing system was saying “get big or get out”, Whatley encouraged “smaller and smarter” as the key to success. He believed that small farms should leave the farming of commodity crops like cotton, corn and soybeans to larger industrial ag, and instead focus on a diversity of high value crops like berries and vegetables; specifically what “grows and sells well where you live”.

Whatley championed direct marketing: he recognized that the key to success didn’t just lay in growing great food, it was equally about selling it. Whatley’s innovative idea was to market to a loyal group of customer subscribers who would pay a membership fee to come to the farm to pick their own produce. He called these “clientele membership clubs”.

“The clientele membership club is the lifeblood of the whole setup. It enables the farmer to plan production, anticipate demand, and, of course, have a guaranteed market.”

This is exactly the definition and value of what we know today as CSA’s.

Whatley knew the importance of customer relationships: “after you get your customers, you’ve got to cultivate them just like you cultivate your crops.” And he had the foresight to see the value in connecting people with the experience of being on a farm.

“We’re bringing up a whole generation in this country today that don’t even know how collards or chickens are raised. So some parents see a farm visit as a wholesome and pleasant educational experience for their youngsters… one that the entire family can share. The average middle-class city person likes the chance to get out on a farm. It’s a form of entertainment, and those folks can save money while they’re having a good time.” Mother Earth News, 1982 

In his advocacy for regenerative farming (soil building & health through compost, crop rotation and nitrogen fixation), Whatley was greatly influenced by another Tuskegee Institute agricultural legend who came before him, George Washington Carver.

Whatley mentored farmers to look at the farm as a whole ecosystem, “the sun, air, rain, plants, animals, people, and all the other physical resources that are within the immediate environment of every farm.”

Whatley saw small farm success as attainable, with the right focus and management. “I see farming as a business, not a lifestyle. I’m talking about a good living for the farmer, maybe even a Caribbean vacation once in a while.”

“Farmers need to spend less time on their air-conditioned tractors. What they really need is an air-conditioned office where they can do their planning, thinking, and managing”. Mother Earth News, 1982 

In his book, “How to Make $100,000 Farming 25 Acres” (1987) Whatley outlined, with playful humor, his ten commandments for a successful and profitable small farm.

Thy small farm shalt:

I. Provide year-round, daily cash flow.
II. Be a pick-your-own operation.
III. Have a guaranteed market with a Clientele Membership Club.
IV. Provide year-round, full-time employment.
V. Be located on a hard-surfaced road within a radius of 40 miles of a population center of at least 50,000, with well-drained soil and an excellent source of water.
VI. Produce only what they clients demand—and nothing else!
VII. Shun middlemen and middlewomen like the plague, for they are a curse upon thee.
VIII. Consist of compatible, complementary crop components that earn a minimum of $3,000 per acre annually.
IX. Be ‘weatherproof’, at least as far as possible with both drip and sprinkler irrigation.
X. Be covered by a minimum of $250,000 worth ($1 million is better) of liability insurance.

50 years ago, Whatley’s work challenged the conventional teaching typical of the land grant university system. Whatley wrote and spoke widely around the country and the world, sharing his vision as he continued to live by his motto: “Find the Good and Praise It.” Booker T. Whatley’s innovative vision for small scale agriculture and clientele membership clubs can be found in the format of ours and so many other Community Supported Agriculture farms. His mantra of “smaller and smarter”, is still incredibly relevant and important today.

Post by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 16th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.

Dear Blooming Glen Farm Community-

“I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there and I am prepared to expect wonders.”-  Henry David Thoreau

I want to assure our community of eaters that we at Blooming Glen Farm are continuing to seed, plant and prepare for the season ahead, with faith that we will all get through this, together.

The CSA is going forward as planned with a renewed energy and commitment to keep our community fed in the months ahead. We believe now more than ever in the importance of strengthening our local foodshed. With the fate (and attendance, if open) at farmers markets uncertain, we believe the CSA is more valuable than ever.

The CSA season begins in late May. As we approach that time, we will continue to evaluate and assess health recommendations and determine whether we will need a different “pick-up protocol” for our shares, even if that means boxing up our onfarm shares, harvesting the pick-your-own crops for you, and having curb side pick-up, or delivering shares to the most vulnerable in our community.

Our day to day operation at the farm continues to be in compliance with the strict Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). We are more vigilant than ever about washing hands, sanitizing work spaces, not touching our faces, and keeping personal distance during the work day (not difficult on a 40 acre farm!). Our limited number of employees are continually monitoring their health and not reporting to work if sick or symptomatic in any way.

We will continue to prioritize the safety of our staff and customers, while also understanding the importance of getting fresh nutritious produce into your hands.

As long as the farmers markets do remain open, and so far they have been considered an essential food access point like grocery stores, we will plan to attend, but will implement the recommended safety measurements. We will however be taking March off from our winter farmers markets as our storage crops have ended, and we will be focusing on planting and readying for the main season. Come April our tulips will be blooming, so stay tuned for opportunities to safely purchase those, and bring a bit of sunshine into your house. The main farmers market season begins in May. As health guidelines are changing day to day and week to week, we will communicate with you more as we get closer to that date.

We feel blessed and privileged to already work from home, to be able to work in the fresh air every day, and we know not everyone has the resources to do so. As a small business owner that relies on the purchasing power of their community I would be lying if I didn’t say I was concerned about the well being of our business, as well as other local businesses during this trying time.

CSA Shares are still available. We need your support and commitment now more than ever. Farmers are creative and resilient- we will figure out a way to get the food we grow safely into your hands, following the most up to date health recommendations. Please reach out if you need a special CSA payment plan because of your economic situation due to COVID-19.

CSA membership shortens the distance your food travels from field to plate. Paying for your share ahead of time means no cash register transactions. Supporting a CSA will trickle down to the hundreds of businesses we support through our farm operations as well as through our employees. Purchasing a CSA share guarantees that you will have a source of fresh local organic produce from May through November. Our partnerships with local beef, pork, poultry and fruit growers will strengthen your ties to your local foodshed.

We look forward to the opportunity to grow food for your family in these challenging times.

Look out for one another, do your best to continue to support your local businesses. Stay safe, be smart, be responsible but most crucially be compassionate and kind. The only way through this is together.

With gratitude for your continued support.

Your farmers,

Tricia and Tom

This Spring though! What beautiful weather- even with the rain we’ve been having, there’s been enough drying time to get crops planted. What a relief! The CSA starts May 21- be sure to register now so you don’t miss out on any of the wonderful crops we are growing for you!

Here on the farm when we see the dandelions blooming we know its potato planting time. With almost 2 acres of potatoes planted we are hoping to have a prolific harvest, and spuds well into next winter. Along with the onions, potatoes are one of the first big plantings we accomplish.

Step 1: break open the stacks and stack of seed potato bags, and cut in half any of the seed pieces that are too big. Swish the seed pieces in a wet slurry of organic beneficial bacteria to help ward off root diseases and promote healthy growth.

Step 2: After readying the field for planting, set the potatoes in rows. Our awesome planting team rides along on the tractor pulled transplanter which is marking the spacing with small divets. Next we come through with our smaller (cuter) Kubota tractor and hill the soil over the seed pieces. We will continue to hill as the plants emerge, and until they are too tall to drive a tractor over without damaging them.

So much food is in the ground (did I mention what a nice spring it’s been??)- zucchini and cucumbers, cabbage and fennel, tomatoes, kale and chard and spinach, radishes, carrots and turnips, and so much more. Eggplants and peppers are next up- we keep an eye on the forecast around the full moon in May, our last likely chance for a frost. It’s been dry enough to cultivate the aisles with our cultivating tractor which saves a lots of time, and hands.

Carrots are up and growing (photo below, right), the very first potatoes have sprouted (below, left), and the first round of spring radishes are headed to market this weekend. We’ve also got lots of plant starts for sale for your garden- herbs (Oh that basil!! It’s been hard to resist harvesting all the tops and making pesto!), tomatoes, greens and more!

Interested in a unique Mothers Day gift? Consider a 10-week pick-your-own flower share for $145. The shares start at the end of June, and you have the flexibility and convenience of coming to the farm any week day or Saturday until 3pm to harvest your blooms. Sign up between now and Mothers Day, and you’ll be entered to win a free mini family photo session with photographer Vanessa Lassin this summer in the fields in bloom.

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 14th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.


It is with the first call of the red winged blackbirds that I know spring is right around the corner. It is only in the past few days that there is some glimpse that the farm fields may be beginning to dry out. Winter came fast and fierce this year. The wind roared off the plastic coverings on more of our high tunnels than I’d like to say. There are so many challenges specific to this land that we farm- heavy soils and a windy hilltop being chief among them. It will be a while before we fully recover from last year’s extremely wet season but we pray and hope that it will be an early and dry spring.

Seeding in our heated greenhouse began in late February with the onions, and has continued weekly, the greenhouse now full to the brim with seedlings in various stages of growth. Kale, lettuce, chard, basil and tomatoes, flowers and more- hundreds and thousands of seeds being sown. We have brought on a new employee to manage the care and seeding of these magical creatures, Dan Zerbe, plant papa extraordinaire. His dedication and steady good humor has been a pleasant addition to our team, and he has been busy bringing your future meals to fruition.

Over the course of the last month in our propagation greenhouses we have been to battle with both mice and aphids- the mice are a familiar foe, the aphids a new problem. Every farmer we follow on social media seems to have their own tactics and methods to outwit rodents, many building elaborate cages around their plants to keep them out. Farmers are nothing if not creative! Some of you may remember last spring we basically sunk an underground barrier of aluminum flashing around the entire perimeter of our two 100′ heated greenhouses. Yet there have been breaches- so we set traps, use steel wool and extra layers of 2×4’s to plug holes. We bait traps with peanut butter and their most scrumptious favorite- spinach seed. So far, we are winning the battle. As for the aphids, a combination of lady beetles and Aphidius colemani (mini-wasps), both natural parasitic predators, has turned the tide in our favor. Whoever said farming was a peaceful endeavor never stepped onto a farm, it’s an eat-or-be-eaten world 😉

Other tasks keeping us busy (besides greenhouse repair and pest control) is compost making. A combo of municipal leaves and horse manure mixed and turned and heated to a toasty 140 degrees is a recipe for black gold.

Looking ahead to harvest season, I’m super excited because we have not one but two amazing women on board to provide weekly recipes created straight from your CSA shares. Stephanie Borzio from Tru You Essentials returns for another season, and Olivia Edgar joins us. Check out Olivia’s mouth watering instagram posts @balancingliv for a glimpse of the goodness to come.

We’re still only half way to our membership goals, so spread the word to friends and family. And if you haven’t signed up yet, now’s the time! Your investment now in the season ahead really helps us get all those supplies we need to get things rolling before the harvest is flowing. We’ve got something for everyone this season- delivery share folks have the opportunity to purchase the 12 week fruit share from North Star Orchard that we have previously only been offering as an add on for on-farm members only, and for an extra fee we will deliver it with your boxed delivery produce shares. We are also offering an 8-week summer flower bouquet share to our delivery sites for those not interested in the pick-your-own option- straight from our field to your vase! Register here!

It’s March 20th, the Vernal Equinox and the full worm moon, a powerful day- get outside and breathe in the air of spring, bask in the light of the last supermoon of 2019 and tread lightly on the earth, at this moment of almost balance between night and day. Say a blessing for the season ahead and for this wonderful land that sustains us.

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 14th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.

The 2018 farm season will be burned into our psyches forever as the wettest and most devastating year on record for our farm. In the past 13 years we’ve been farming here in Perkasie, and the 19 we’ve been farming overall, we have never experienced a year like this. If you’ve been following along with us on social media, then this will come as no surprise to you. Or maybe the rain has impacted you personally- you’ve tried to garden, or have your roof repaired, found mold growing in the dark corners of your house or your basement flooded for the umpteenth time. Maybe you suffer from SAD in the winter but actually felt it this summer, or you are a contractor, landscaper, or arborist struggling to find days to work. Perhaps you just noticed the prevailing gloomy weather and the constant downpours, or you’ve seen the reports that we are about 20 inches of rain above our entire annual average for the region, and the year is not over yet.

Here at Blooming Glen Farm we lost field after field after field of crops- to flooding, to rain stress, to rot. We saw a noticeable lack of pollination in crops that were still able to survive- tomatoes and eggplants and sweet corn that either was unable to pollinate during the extreme summer heat events, or dropped blossoms in the heat, or didn’t see enough sun. Crops we have consistently seen succeed in the past, through no fault of our own, were complete and utter losses. Yet we kept trying- we sowed carrots 5 times- that’s seed and labor costs, to see no rewards. The same for fall broccoli- early successions rotted before harvest was possible. We lost our entire field of brussels sprouts, all the fall cabbage, at least half of our winter squash and 2/3 of our potatoes. Fennel and radicchio and lettuces either bolted from the extreme temperature swings or water stress. Weekly plantings like salad mix and green beans were unable to go into the ground consistently due to a lack of any dry ground, only mud. Early spring plantings struggled along, stressed and stunted, like our pick-your-own cherry tomatoes, or completely died, like all our spring peas.

As much as the farm has struggled under the strain of endless extreme weather this year so have your farmers. The most challenging part of this season was simply having to find a way to keep going, to not hide under the covers every. single. day. Our best efforts were not enough to bring crops to harvest and it is really hard to feel so helpless week after week. We always carry the notion that things are about to get better, the weather will turn, the plants want to grow, the harvest will come. This year really tested that belief and our spirits.

We are not telling you all of this so that you can throw your hands up at supporting a local farm (please don’t!), and return to the comfort and convenience and glorious array of trucked and flown in produce at your local grocery store. We are telling you all this so you can be reminded even more so then ever, of the connection that the weather has to your local food system. Your local food system is not Florida or California or even New York; it is Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, and most specifically right here in Bucks County. Your local farmers faced an undeniably crippling season and we need your support now more than ever.

Despite all the challenges we faced this season, the opportunity to grow food for you all is still what keeps us going year after year. Cultivating this community of eaters is one of our proudest achievements and we are not ready to throw in the towel quite yet. If there is a silver lining to be found in this terrible year, it is in the strength of the model of a CSA farm. Without the commitment from the CSA to share the successes, and failures, of whatever the season may bring, we’d be sunk. And at the backbone is the idea that we are all interconnected, a web of the weather, the farm, its crops and its ecosystem, the growers and the eaters. If nothing else we want our loyal supporters to walk away from this season seeing the connection between the weather and the food on your dinner plate, and hearing the voices of your farmers, who I truly believe are on the front lines of climate change- the canaries in the (pollution spewing) coal mine so to speak. And to really understand that though there are many ways to buy and support local (and we need them all), it is truly the CSA model that will keep farming viable in a changing climate.

And call us crazy but we are optimistic (or we will be after some time away to reflect and re-energize) that it can’t be this terrible again, and hopeful that if it is, then we, with the support of our community, will find a way to adapt (more high tunnels!). Though we know that this year did not have the same diversity of offerings, and certainly not the top quality that we so pride ourselves on, we still managed to provide a share of delicious organic vegetables every week to our CSA members. In order to do that we completely eliminated our wholesale sales, and saw a drastic reduction in our farmer’s market income. Despite efforts to cut our biggest expense, labor, there was still always work to be done, and those repeated attempts at planting, came at a cost.

How can you help? We are asking, we are pleading really, if you are planning to return as a CSA member for the 2019 season, and we hope that you will, that you register before Jan. 1st , and pay in full if at all possible (if you can’t, that’s ok too- we’d rather you register and just pay the down payment then not register at all!). We will not be able to offer an early registration discount- we are in a serious financial bind and need every dollar of the share cost- however we will also not be raising the prices at all. In addition, if you are at all able to make a small, medium or even large donation on top of the cost of your share- whatever you can afford- it will help us immensely to weather this storm, and be able to keep paying our fixed costs like rent, insurance, and payroll throughout the winter, as well as move forward with ordering all the seeds and supplies for a new season of sowing.

We are so grateful for those of you that reached out to us over this past season- whose kind words of encouragement and support bolstered our morale. And for the CSA members who’s delight in their shares each week was unwavering, for those of you who strapped on your rain boots to tromp out to the muddy fields and returned with smiles as bright as your flower bouquets. We are so grateful for the farmer’s market customers who came out every week, despite more limited selections and a seemingly endless streak of rainy, windy Saturdays. We are so grateful for all of your support, in receiving the gifts of the harvest that were hard won this season, for taking the time to cook, eat and enjoy a nourishing meal with your family (and in turn for going easy on yourself when maybe a head of lettuce went uneaten or a kohlrabi lay buried in your crisper drawer). We know that meal preparation can often be an incredibly difficult task in its own right in these busy and challenging times. Just as in farming, we can only learn by trying, we may not always succeed but hopefully we triumph more often than not. Thank you for being with us on this crazy farming journey, whatever the weather may bring.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving and have a restful, healthy, joyful winter. Here’s hoping for sunnier skies in 2019. (The last CSA shares of the season are the week of Nov. 13th.)

With many thanks and a grateful heart, your farmers at Blooming Glen

Tricia and Tom and the BGF crew

**Click here to Register for the 2019 season.** Returning members, look for the green bar at the top that says “Returning Member? Click here to Continue”. Please email us at bloomingglenfarm@verizon.net if you have any questions or issues with your registration.

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 13th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.

After almost 12 inches of rainfall in the month of May and early June (that’s triple our average monthly rainfall, and not just any month, but one of the most crucial planting months of the season), the flood waters have receded. We’ve been able to till, make beds, cultivate and plant with the dry sunny weather of the past two weeks. We are however still seeing the results of all that water stress on many plants. At this point we know what we have lost (sadly an entire field of sugar snap peas that was at least a foot tall turned yellow and died- a heartbreaker I know, for it is a crop that we all love dearly) but we are also seeing what will pull through, and with a flurry of activity on the farm and long days stretching from sunrise to sunset when we had windows of perfect weather, we have caught up on our planting.

The approach of the summer solstice signifies the window of opportunity closing to get many of our fall crops in. Looking ahead 100 days for some crops, particularly winter squash (pictured above), brings us to the beginning of October. So it’s crucial that we get all that stuff transplanted by the solstice. Summer cabbages, pictured below, won’t be long until they are ready for harvest, but we are also busy planting fall cabbages, broccoli, beets, brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes.

Looking at the summer crops that were planted in the midst of all that wet weather, they now seem to be doubling in size with the heat and sun. Field tomatoes that looked so sad in the rain are rebounding with their usual resilience. Peppers and eggplants are also happy now that they are weeded and warm. The onion fields required loads and loads of hand weeding, which we’ve now done a number of times with wonderful results (thank you farm crew!!!). It won’t be long until we can enjoy fresh garlic and big juicy sweet onions.

The early variety of red salad greenhouse tomatoes aren’t far from being ready for harvest (shown below)- pruning and trellising these keep us busy even on rainy days. We also have all our grafted heirloom tomatoes in a high tunnel, protected from the elements. They’ll be along a little later, in early August. We have a second planting of heirloom tomatoes to go into another tunnel next week, so we can have tomatoes late into the fall. That’s the theme of this season- crappy spring, killer fall!

Direct seeded carrots, pictured below, germinated nicely after seeding with our precision vacuum seeder, and flame weeding them post sowing, (but pre-emersion). After all the direct sowing’s that washed away in May, we’re pretty excited about this stand of carrots. Something to look forward to!

We have multiple plantings of melons and corn in the ground (those are melons pictured in the very first photo), all of which are moving along, as are the many fields of potatoes. We will be digging new red potatoes for the CSA starting the week of July 3, giving them just another week to size up. We will have a limited amount at market before then if you can’t wait that long or need some for your weekend barbecues (CSA members receive 10% off at our roadstand open Mon and Fridays, 2-6pm, and Saturdays 10-2pm). We continue to plant successions of weekly greens as well as green beans. The earliest green bean plantings may have suffered in the wet, and we missed a few because of the wet field conditions, but the next ones are doing great and we will keep planting every week to 10 days in order to have beans up until the frost.

The pick-your-own flower field we are watching closely. The plants do seem shorter and less robust than usual, we lost plants in the wet ends of the fields and they are definitely behind schedule, despite us sticking to the same planting schedule as previous years. Flowers can be more fickle then vegetables, and are very susceptible to throwing out blooms on shorter stems when stressed out. We will be transplanting a late rotation of sunflowers and zinnias this week, hoping to push the flowers late into the fall since we are getting a bit of a late start. We will let you know as soon as we have enough bloom to open up for member picking.

We can’t thank everyone enough who reached out to us in support over the past month. It really meant all the difference to hear your words of encouragement, and it was a wonderful reminder of why we do what we do. It really is a crazy thing to be in a line of work that no matter if you plan every last detail and work your absolute hardest, there is still a huge variable like the weather that just cannot be controlled or predicted. And we wouldn’t be able to continue in this line of work if we didn’t have the support of customers who seriously understand that. Grocery stores sure make it easy to have everything we desire at our fingertips, and at cheap prices that in no way reflect the true cost of growing that food. With so much available at our fingertips, trucked in from places like California, Mexico and Florida, it has to be a constant choice to say yes, I want to support our local farms and farmersI want to eat seasonally when I can, whatever that particular season provides. It really does strengthen that connection among us all- the growers, the eaters, the earth, the weather, and the choices we make that ripple out through the environment. So thank you, from all of us at Blooming Glen Farm, for holding that connection sacred.

We hope you’ll join us at the farm tomorrow, Thursday evening, June 21st at 7 pm, for a free family-friendly ritual and solstice blessing in the fields of the farm, led by Rebekah Barnes of Rooted Rhythms, where we will come together to sing, and give thanks for the turning of the wheel of the seasons. I for one will be giving thanks for the sun, and for all of you.

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Some photos and photo editing by Dakota Borneman Murtha.  Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 13th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.

We are due to give farm update so here goes. Whew, what a challenging spring! This has been one for the records and not in a good way. The rains just keep coming, deluge after deluge. Every little window of opportunity we have to plant, or till fields, we take. But the opportunities have been few and far between. Many of the crops that we were able to get in the ground in early spring washed away or drowned in the heavy rains- direct seeded crops like arugula, broccoli raab, spring turnips and radishes.

About a quarter of our new potatoes rotted in the ground, but we had some extra seed we were able to plunk in. (It will make harvest a bit of a challenge as the plants within the rows will be at different stages of development. No more blindly harvesting the whole bed.)

New potatoes pictured above- you can see all the spots where the potatoes rotted and we had to plug in new seed. We are seeing lots of plants experiencing water stress. And since we have had a lack of sun and heat, those that are still alive, crops that we typically would be harvesting by now like the kale and chard, are just kind of sitting there, not doing much growing. We have a whole field of Tuscan kale that looks small, pale and stunted, surrounded by weeds. The weeds somehow thrive, and continue to grow. But its too wet for us to cultivate, especially with tractors, and even with hands. I almost could not bear to put the photo below in here, this one is a heart breaker. Water stressed tuscan kale plants stunted and surrounded by weeds, too wet to cultivate.

Every year has its own sets of challenges, but I have to say this one has felt especially rough. We can always add water, but we can’t take it away, and our fields are a heavy clay, definitely the worst kind of soil to have in a wet spring. Coupled with the late cold wintry weather the heavy rains have been especially damaging.

Weedy swiss chard field on left (too wet to cultivate) and curly kale on the right. Neither have grown much in the month since we’ve planted them.

The hardest part of this spring is feeling resentful of nature. I used to love nature- thunderstorms, downpours, hot humid summers- I loved it all as a child. In the last few weeks, when I was struggling the most, feeling deep despair, my dear friend gave me a visual meditation, to imagine cradling the globe of the earth in my hands. I have found that tool to be so helpful, for I do not want to have an antagonistic relationship with nature- why the exact opposite is what drove us to farming.  I want to hear a rainstorm and like the child inside me, dance with glee barefoot in the rain, not feel dread in the pit of my stomach wondering what crops will suffer and be lost. Certainly I feel that we as humans are responsible for so much of the extreme weather patterns we experience, but that doesn’t provide any comfort at all, just a reminder of our shared responsibility for what we are experiencing.

Too wet to work in the fields, the farm crew assembles the trellising pulleys for the greenhouse tomatoes.

I am so thankful for our farm crew, the new crew members jumping in with energy and enthusiasm, for our assistant Sam, and especially for our friends from Mexico who are with us for a second season, so joyful and thankful to be here, and so full of positivity and willingness to work. We never could have accomplished what we did on Friday evening and Saturday without them. Such a small window of dry weather, our fields dried out just enough in places, that with two teams working late into the evening making beds, we got 67 200 foot beds prepped and ready to plant on Saturday. Saturday was a sun up to sun down planting effort (yes, it was finally sunny!)- transplants that have been waiting and waiting to go in- the first corn, the peppers, the eggplants, more squash and cucumbers were all planted.  Fields of cover crops were mowed then plowed under, fields that just a few days before we thought we’d never be able to drive into, now the hope is that after these last rains, we will be able to get in and rototill and make more beds for the next wave of plants. It was a hugely productive day.

First sweet corn planting that went in on Saturday, looking pretty soggy after Sunday’s rain.

We are thankful for the investment we made into high tunnels last fall, where we have early tomatoes (and basil in this week’s CSA share) thriving. Pictured below, field tomatoes struggling in the wet ground on the left, versus greenhouse tomatoes on the right (notice the basil planted on the shoulders of the outside beds).

In the field, well, we have dubbed this the season of lettuce. Oh lettuce, how you love the rain and the cool weather. Let them eat salad- the earth is telling us. So we will eat lots of salads this spring!

You will see that we will be buying in a few crops (organic and local of course) over the next few weeks. This is the first time in 13 years that we’ve felt we had to do so, but it is important to us that we are providing a decent share to you our super supportive CSA members. And though we know that the bounty will come, growth cannot be hurried, not without the important element of the sun. So in the meantime we will do our best, to improvise, to roll with the challenges before us, and to keep imagining the earth cradled in our hands.

Post by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 13th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community. 

It’s March Madness down on the farm, and we’ve got an exciting proposition for you! Register for either the Blooming Glen Farm CSA or the Hershberger Heritage Farm CSA during the month of March and take part in an exclusive Meet your Farmers Farm-Hop Tour” in late May/early June. Exclusively for those who register in March, we’ll start the tour with the entertaining Farmer Tom in the strawberry patch at Blooming Glen Farm, and then move 7 miles down the road to Sellersville to chat with Farmer Nate and meet the menagerie at Hershberger Heritage Farm.

Blooming Glen Farm and Hershberger Heritage Farm are neighbors, friends and fellow certified organic producers in your foodshed. One of the really awesome things about joining Blooming Glen Farm CSA is that not only are you picking up delicious freshly harvested vegetables, we are also making it convenient for you to access other local producers while you are here. Those local producers include bakers and coffee roasters, bee tenders and grain growers, herbalists, orchardists, and livestock farmers like our neighbors at Tussock Sedge Farm and Nate and Shelah at Hershberger Heritage Farm. When you join Blooming Glen Farm CSA and pick-up your produce and flowers at the farm in Perkasie, Nate of Hershberger Heritage Farm will be there weekly, selling his certified organic pastured chicken and eggs and other pastured and Non-GMO meats.

We believe strongly in the connection between CSA members and their farmers. One of the many advantages of joining a farm is that your food has a story behind it- the story of the soil, the land, and most importantly the people. Both Blooming Glen Farm and Hershberger Heritage Farm have many hands involved in the magic of their respective day to day operations- on this tour it’s your chance to get to know those fuzzy bearded farmers behind YOUR local food.

For example did you know that Farmer Tom at Blooming Glen Farm was a rower in college? He sees a big connection between the athleticism of sports and the act of farming. Not only is there an element of endurance to the physical demands of vegetable farming- stooping, bending, lifting, shoveling; there is also mental strategizing- “200 more feet of carrots to weed…how fast can I go while still maintaining an efficient body posture” and mental stamina- “okay, its rainy and cold today, but we have a job to get done.” Tom likens himself to a coach when motivating and encouraging his farm crew. Another fun fact: At the beginning of the farm journey for Tom and his wife Tricia, they lived in a geodesic dome in Oregon with no electricity for 3 years while farming in the fertile Willamette Valley.

Farmer Nate is a fourth generation farmer and the founder of Hershberger Heritage farm with his wife Shelah. Nate spent 8 years in the US Air Force; the rigid schedule of the military helped prepare him for the unforgiving schedule of livestock farming- there’s no missing a feeding or a watering.  Nate returned to his roots when starting Hershberger Heritage Farm- his grandfather Pap Hershberger had an 800 acre dairy farm in Pennsylvania- it’s his handsome mug that the logo for Hershberger Heritage Farm is modeled after. Some other fun facts: Nate has a passion for wood working and fly fishing.

Register for any size share from either the Blooming Glen Farm CSA or the Hershberger Heritage Farm CSA during the month of March and take part in this exclusive “Meet your Farmers Farm-Hop Tour” in late May/early June. Have your burning questions answered. What type of chicken lays a blue egg? What is the role of a farm dog on a livestock farm? What is Farmer Tom’s favorite and least favorite crop to grow? What is Farmer Nate’s favorite and least favorite chore each day? What led to each of these farms becoming certified organic and what are some of the challenges that come along with that choice?

Register for a Hershberger Heritage Farm CSA share here: https://www.hhf.farm/membership or shop online at https://www.hhf.farm/shoponline

Register for Blooming Glen Farm vegetable and flower CSA shares here: http://bloomingglenfarm.csasignup.com/members/types or learn more about our CSA on our website https://www.bloomingglenfarm.com/csa/

Already registered for our CSA’s? Don’t worry- we’ll keep you posted about future collaborations between our farms. Still on the fence? Reach out with your questions- we’re happy to chat! And should you choose to register in March, we’ll see you at the Farm-Hop Tour!

Post by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 13th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community. (Additional photos contributed by Shelah Layton of Hershberger Heritage Farm and Blooming Glen Farm CSA member and photographer Vanessa Lassin)


Here’s what’s happening on the farm: the crops are pouring in, but the weeds are growing just as fast. The continual wet weather is keeping our tractor cultivators out of the fields, which puts a damper on things. We are certainly at a scale where it is just impossible to hand weed the entire farm, so certain crops can and do fall by the wayside. Typically bare ground, direct sown crops are the hardest to manage in a wet season: carrots, arugula, broccoli raab, and radishes for example. Transplanted crops have the advantage of height and resiliency, so they have a head start on the weeds. Sometimes we are able to undersow a cover crop, like in this kale field. The undersown crop out competes the weeds, providing a living mulch.

The pick-your-own flower fields are in full bloom right now. It is a magical spot to be as the sun is setting, or on an early misty morning (though an extreme downpour soon followed that picturesque moment).

Our farm solstice blessing was a beautiful opportunity to stop and mark the changing of the seasons. Especially here on the farm it does mark the peak of the flurry of planting activity that begins for us with the sowing of the first seeds in early March. With the approach of the summer solstice we race to get the long season crops planted, for we know after the solstice the days start to shorten ever so slightly and the window of plant growth begins to narrow.

You wouldn’t know it though by observing the summer squash. This plentiful crop requires our constant vigilance- harvesting happens every other day. Picking squash requires a team of six- 4 pickers, one packer and one tractor driver. The cucumbers are on the same picking schedule. Lots of bending over- down to the ground, up to the conveyor, over and over again, every other day.

July on our farm means long days, at least 7am to 6pm, but sometimes stretching to 7 or 8pm. Almost every morning we are doing some sort of harvesting, trying to beat the midday heat. Make hay while the sun shines, or as pictured below, harvest celery before it’s too freaking hot.  Some days feel like we are just treading water, and every moment is trouble shooting a new problem, from leaking drip tape to broken trucks, tractor implements, I-phones and ez-ups. But then there are the triumphs, the beneficial insects released at the right moment in the beans, and the moments of joy- the taste of a sweet yellow wax bean, the beauty of the bright gold sunflowers against the vibrant blue sky.

In addition to our regular daily harvests for the CSA and markets and wholesale, we have to squeeze in the harvest of crops that will be done all at once, for storage and later distribution. Our garlic harvest went smoothly, and this year we were able to protect them from the allium leaf miner insect, which was a huge triumph. The crop is currently laid out on tables in our friend’s barn, drying down. Soon we will harvest all our onions, also to be cured. Currently however, we are all enjoying the beautiful fresh onions, such a wonderful seasonal treat.

The big question on everyone’s mind is, where are the tomatoes? It’s like a watched pot over here at the farm! The pick-your-own cherry tomatoes are just starting this week for the CSA, and the greenhouse heirlooms are beginning to trickle in…we’ll have a few on the roadstand and at market this week.

The field tomatoes look beautiful, and, very green! Yes, they are certainly behind schedule. We didn’t change anything on our end from previous years, but mother nature sure sent us a curve ball. With the cool wet spring, and overall cooler temps so far this season, their growth and ripening has definitely been delayed. But have no fear, we will all be swimming in the tomato bounty soon enough and you’ll be begging for it to stop 😉

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner  (Photos 1, 4 & 5 contributed by Matthew LaVergne). Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 12th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.